Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year!


I wish everyone the best of luck, health and happiness in 2014!


This year has been interesting in more ways than one and the last scandal involving the Government seems to be dragging my beloved country into a serious turbulence. I hope, we will come out strong and put our country back to the path of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey.

When I was a child, I would do the math and tell myself: I will be 33 in the year 2000! Oh! Wow! I used to think 33 was really old and yet, here we are in almost 2014:) Not feeling old yet...


Friday, December 27, 2013

TGIF!

I was at a Customer today and I am so thankful that this week is over. Since, I cannot still fly, a 9 hour bus trip is awaiting me. Hopefully, early tomorrow morning I will be home.

On Thursday and Friday, I will be meeting a new Customer in Istanbul. This really is a blessing. The relationship with my current customer was on shaky ground lately due to some back-stabbing "friends" but, they seem to want to keep on with us. It means more travel to Izmir but, as long as money keeps coming, I am not going to complain.

The economy has taken a nosedive lately due to a Government scandal and this year may be tighter than expected so, every extra penny goes to savings. There may be early elections this year too. Many businesses will be cautious and they will probably stop any non-urgent expenses and investments.

We sure are living in interesting times...

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review of 2013 Goals

Today, I sat down and looked at my numbers.

Istanbul stock exchange tanked very recently due to a major scandal involving many members of the Government so, my Retirement Account took a big hit. 

I have exceeded my goals in all other categories so, all in all this was a good year. 

Here is a summary:

Cash: +19% (but I spent quiet a bit for my home renovation project)
Retirement Fund: -4%
Stocks: +11% (was a lot better few weeks ago)
Gold: 0% (met the goal)
Dollar Account: +12% (dollar appreciated against TL significantly this year)

In 2014, besides funding my retirement account religiously, I will be carefully saving TL and Dollars only. I have enough exposure to Stock exhange via my retirement account and my Stock Account.

It looks like this may be a tight year so, I do not know if I will be able to take my dream vacation. My intended date is still almost a year away. We shall see.

Now, I need to sit down to make my 2014 budget.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Image: Courtesy of http://www.freechristmaswallpapers.net

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friends!

I belong to a group of 7. We are former colleagues and although we haven't been working for the same company for over 7 years, we are a pretty close circle of friends. There are 3 guys and 4 ladies including yours truly in our group. We keep in touch via phone all the time but make sure we get together at least every month.

Our outings are usually of the expensive kind because, all of us like to eat and drink and Istanbul is a gem of a place. We almost never go to the same place twice in a year. Since it is only once a month, I do not mind the expense. It is pretty much my only splurge. Usually alcoholic beverages cost a lot because of the enormous taxes imposed by the current conservative Government. They cannot ban it as they would love to do but they keep upping the taxes so, our outings cost dearly. I usually do not drink so that I can drive some of my friends home and whenever I feel like drinking, we leave all the cars and use public transportation. We are all responsible adults with ages ranging between 42-54. Oh and btw, we always divide the bill among us equally because doing it otherwise would make us feel cheap. The guys are the bigger drinkers so they usually treat us to coffee afterwards or pay the parking tickets and try to balance the expenses out. It is cute.

For the last 3 years we started a new tradition of gift giving for the New Year's (we do not celebrate Christmas, since we are not Christians but, we do celebrate the New Year and for some of us exchanging gifts is something we like to do. More religious types frown upon that but, I do not care).

Yesterday night was our gift exchange night and we had a blast. We do have some pranksters in our group and they love their tricks. So, I ended up with a very elegant 100% wool shawl (my principal gift), a cute puppy bookmark and a couple of cute bowls and a horribly slutty looking sequined shirt which was my funny gift from the pranksters:)

I have bought everyone funny multi-colored toe socks:)

I am sure glad I belong to this funny, intelligent, thoughtful group of friends. They are the best!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weight Loss Progress

Mom and I have been seeing a dietician every month since February 18, 2013. She lost 12 kgs. (26.45 lbs) and my weight loss is as shown on the ticker above.

Some people are able to lose a lot faster but we were on and off the diet vagon and even when we were off, we had been relatively good. This has been more of a lifestyle change for both of us.

Our next appointment will be in January 21st. Until then, we will stick to our plans. She actually added more food to my list because apparently I have lost more than she expected during the last 20 days.
I am now allowed to exercise so, I will be using weights for my arms and Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds DVDs for exercising indoors.

The key to weight loss is drinking plenty of water. If I remember to drink green tea that helps too. My dietician wants us to drink two cups of green tea each day but, since I do not like it, I tend to skip it.

People ask me what my goal weight is. The thing is I do not know. I have spent the last 25 years fat/obese. I do not know what is a realistic weight for me. I just want to keep trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle with plenty of appropriate exercise. I would like to get below 100 kgs (220 pounds) but that will take a long time.

I already feel much better about my body weight. I can walk long distances without my feet and back hurting. I do not feel tired all the time anymore. I can only guess when I shed about 40 more pounds, life will be much better.

I am getting rid of all fat clothes. I wowed never to gain back the weight I have so far lost. I am not shopping either. I have enough clothes to wear until I get down to two sizes smaller. I am happy as of now.




Friday, December 13, 2013

Financial Outlook

This month is a tight one and seems like, so will be the next two months due to lack of new projects. If I can stick to my strict budget, I will not have to dip into savings or rather EF until the end of  March. However, that is very very tight.

When I chose to work part-time, I had fully anticipated that this was a possibility. However, I always had work so, I guess I got spoilt.

I have decided that I should try to stick to this very tight budget even if a new project and money comes my way during January and February.

Sometimes I wonder whether I should have continued working full-time but then again, there haven't been any opportunities. Unfortunately, in this country at my age, one is considered "old" for many positions.

I will be financially free in May 2014 and after that even if I do not work at all, I could live with my passive income. However, it would be living with a somewhat tight budget. I think, it is too early for me to be stuck at such a life.




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Know Thy Unit Prices!

Few years ago, based on what I read at some frugal living blogs, I started a Price Book but, I am not that organized. Yes, I make a budget, yes, I save money on a monthly basis but keeping a Price Book is a bit of a stretch. I do have a good memory though and I use that to my advantage.

I know the unit prices of all sorts of detergents I use, paper goods, olive oil, milk and a lot of other staples. So, while grocery shopping I always compare unit prices and if there is a real good deal of something I regularly use, I stock up on that item. This works for me.

Mom is currently with me until mid February or so but, I remember her mentioning that she was low on dishwasher tablets. So, the other day as we were walking the isles of a supermarket, I noticed a very good deal on dishwasher detergent and we bought her a large pack. She laughs at me for remembering such stuff but again, it works for me!

Few weeks ago I snatched up body washing liquids at half price. They came in small bottles but the unit price was cheaper than the large bottles. Larger containers do not always mean economy. Also, I like it better when I have small bottles of a variety of fragrances instead of having to wash with the same thing for months. Another thing I have noticed is that I use liquid cleaning products more sparingly if they are in a smaller bottle. So, even when I buy large bottles due to a good price, I pour the contents to smaller ones.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let it snow! Let it snow!

There is a snow storm out there. It is lovely to watch it but then again, when one thinks of the poor and the homeless... May God help them...

It snows a few times during the winter in Istanbul and since this is a city on the seaside, the weather is milder and the snow usually melts away fast. Some years we do not get any snow at all. Inner parts of the country is a different story. In Ankara, it snows and snows and freezes over and snows for weeks. It also gets very cold.

It is a good day to make hot cocoa.


Monday, December 9, 2013

So sick...

I got sick last Monday and even today I am feeling pretty bad. For  four days, I tried OCT medicine but on Friday, I had to go see a doctor who prescribed me antibiotics which make my stomach hurt.

My throat is much better thanks to the antibiotics but, I still feel very weak and light-headed.

I stepped on the scale today and was pleasantly surprised that I lost some more weight possibly due to being so sick. Still, I am happy:)

I spent some money on medicine and grocery shopping last week. I probably would have spent much more so, I decided to put a 20 in my sealed pot (which is really not a sealed Christmasy tin).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to losing weight...

While I was doing the home renovations, I had given up my diet. I was not being totally bad but, I was not losing weight either.

So, for a very long while, my weight loss ticker above has stayed where it was. Now, I am back to losing again. YAY!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

SFT's Sealed Pot Challenge for 2014 begins tomorrow!

I am happy to be a part of the Sealed Pot Challenge this year. There are very inspiring bloggers among the participants.

For further info: http://sftandthe101challenge.blogspot.com

I must go find a container to make a sealed pot. I will not be putting coins in because TL coins do not amount to much. I will be putting in 5 and 10 TL bills. For those who are interested here are some currency conversion rates as of last Friday:

1 USD= 2.02 TL
1 BPS= 3.29 TL
1 Canadian Dollar= 1.90 TL
1 Australian Dollar= 1.82 TL
1 Euro= 2.75 TL

In this country we had been through several years of high inflation rates in the past and finally in 2005 we threw out 6 zeros from our currency. Life was difficult when you had to make several digit calculations. It was horrible to be paid in billions (no, it's not a typo).


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Don't know what to think... yet...

There is a development which may significantly affect my finances in a bad way. I am a bit stressed but, I must be patient to see what happens. Then, and only then I can make sound decisions. So, I shall wait this storm out...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

One of my favorite Holidays of the U.S. !

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

Monday, November 25, 2013

2014 Financial Goals towards Total Financial Independence...

Today I found out how much extra I would have to pay into my retirement fund to get the maximum Government match. The problem is that I am short of cash so, I had to give up a part of my investments. I decided to part with 20% of my gold investment. I made 6% in 5 months on gold so, although it is declining sharply, this is a clean profit. I have sold the gold and put the money in my retirement fund. The government will match it by 25% which to me is a great deal.

In 2014, I shall be paying the maximum to my retirement account.

Unless the Stock Exchange plunges, I do not think I will be investing in individual stocks in 2014. I have enough risk exposure to stocks in my retirement portfolio. However, since I have 9,5 years to go before I can touch that money without having to pay extra taxes, I am comfortable with that.

I will be basically purchasing US Dollars and keep a bigger cash cushion in a savings account.

I also will not be purchasing any more gold.

So, based on the above decisions, I have set my 2014 goals which I will be tweaking a little by the end of December.

2014 is an exciting year for me because I will be truly Financially Independent by May-June. This does not mean that I will stop working. I think, I would like to work until June 2023 when I will be 56.

Lately I had been contemplating whether I started to work on a part-time basis too early or not. I cannot see what lays ahead and this somewhat bothers me. I also think my rate is a bit on the low side. I do not know if it would make sense to actively seek a full time job. In any case, I think I should stay put until May.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Friend

Today I invited a friend over to have a cup of coffee and chat. We see each other occasionally and she is a very busy person. She runs her own business, has 8 year old twins at home and basically has a real busy life.

Having today's break was refreshing for both of us. Lately I haven't been myself and she recommended someone who has been helpful for her in the past. All in all, a good chat with a good friend is refreshing. I feel good...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Technology and Old(er) People...

My mom is normally a very sharp person. She has a Bachelor's Degree, she is versatile, witty and pretty quick to grasp things. However, when it comes to very basic technology, she suddenly becomes...weird? She acts funny as if she never really wants to learn this stuff yet, she has to at least a little bit.

Her cell phone was one of those fool proof archaic ones and she absolutely loved it till it broke down lately. So, my thoughtful sister gave her, her old Samsung phone. It is a touch phone and it is smart. My mom? Not very much so... She is getting used to the phone reaaaaalllllyyyyy slooooooooowly...

She bought a new TV (smart) this year and her cable service had to be upgraded. However the idiot who went to bring the new box and take the old one out screwed up big time and she ended up having two subscriptions with some period commitments. If you cancel either of the subscriptions, there is a penalty. Mom of course did not realize this when the installation was being done. I pay for that service and when I saw two charges on my credit card, I inquired about it and found out the whole stupidity.

I had to call the cable company and pretend that I was mom because they want to talk to the member only and mom wants none of this mess. I was on the phone for several minutes and finally got the cable company understand that there has been a mistake and that it was not on our side.They told me they would take care of it and then they would inform me. I called mom and told her what has passed and told her that she would soon receive a call as to whether the problem was fixed or not. Did she listen to me? I thought she did but, apparently I was wrong. So, when the company called her up to inquire further about the membership numbers, she told them the problem was fixed! Why? Because, I took charge and talked to the cable company and for her that was it. So, a month later, I found out that the problem still existed, called the cable company twice again pretending to be mom and re-do the whole "it wasn't our fault so why penalize us?" thing.

I gave them my number and took hers out of the cable company's system but, her home phone cannot be erased. So, I called her up again told her what was going on twice and told her if she ever receives a call she should NOT tell that the problem is gone. Ahhhhhh! I feel tired. Such a simple problem yet it requires so much talking and re-addressing.....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frustrated with the Customer...

I think we are about to reach a point of dropping this Customer. No matter what we do, we do not seem to make any progress because their General Manager does not want any change. The boss, who is the owner is desperate. He had his business managed by not very competent people and did not intervene in what they did for a very long time. They are no longer able to keep up with the changing environment and they have started losing serious money.

I would have fired the 3 people at the top months ago. The boss is afraid to let them go and this makes matters a lot worse.

For a few weeks we thought we were finally making progress and really getting them understand what needs to be done. Last week, everything came to screeching halt. Again...

So, we shall see what happens. I might be required here for some work until March but the Change Project may come to an end.

It is really frustrating to see our honest effort and time going to waste even if we do get paid. I wish I could contribute to people who really would like to make a difference.

We'll see what happens in the months to come.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Never let your mind wander...

Today, I caught myself thinking about paying up the remaining debt on the rental property. I have 6 months to go and a part of me wants to do away with that debt right NOW! However, this is pretty stupid because at this point, there will be very minimal interest saved and there really isn't much left to pay.

On the other hand, if I contribute extra to my retirement fund, Government will match it by 25%. That is a much better choice. Who is giving us 25% these days?

I must go find out how much extra I can contribute to my retirement account and whether I can comfortably do it. Next year, I will try to contribute the maximum to benefit from the maximum Government contribution. It should be doable especially after May, once the rental property debt is gone. Patience T'Pol...

Last night I went out with friends and it was a looooong night. I met the girls in our group couple hours prior to our get together and we went into a wine place. After much needed girl talk and two glasses of wine, we joined the guys at a nice restaurant. Some more wine and way too much food later we decided to pop in at a Jazz Club and ended up spending an hour and a half there. I took a cab home instead of picking up my car from where I parked because, I had drunk more than I ever do. Normally I drink only one glass of an alcoholic beverage and take charge as the designated driver. It was a very good night. We are having so much fun with this group and I hope to be able to do it for many years to come in good health.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baked Falafel... Inadvertently:)

Last night I soaked some chick peas. My intention was to cook them and use them in soups and salads for a while but I forgot to time the pressure cooker and my chickpeas turned very mushy.

I scratched my head as to what I should make with them. I immediately thought of hummus but I don't have any tahini at home and also it is fattening. I like falafels but I never made them. I did not want to fry anything so I looked up baked falafel recipes and I found one which I could easily make. After the chicken came out of the oven, I put the falafels in and they turned out to be quiet good.

I am all set for the week ahead.

Choices

A not so close friend of mine contacted me over Facebook to say that she would be in Istanbul during the weekend and that it would be nice to see me. She called me yesterday and I was really feeling crappy due to my period so, I told her I could not go out at night, but we could have breakfast today. I guess her plans were different so we decided we could not get together this weekend.

A bunch of old High School mates are gathering today and I really wanted to go but I am still feeling not great. Besides, tomorrow night I am supposed to meet with my regular buddies and that usually ends up to be an expensive night. I could not justify eating expensive meals out two nights in a row so, I called my school mates to say I will not be able to make it.

Just a few minutes ago I was about to place a food delivery order online because I am not feeling well but suddenly I realized it is going to be both expensive and unhealthy. So, I decided to go to the grocery store which is like 2 minutes on foot to get my weekly food shopping done. I am now leaving this post to run to the store and I will complete it when I get back with a tally of what I had bought.

..............

OK, I am back and here is what I bought for 44 TL roughly around USD 22-23:

A Whole Chicken
Tomatoes
Satsuma Mandarines
Yogurt
Broccoli
Iceberg Lettuce
Arugula
3 cans of Light Ice Tea
Spinach Pie

I am surely glad I walked over to the store. It would be pure laziness otherwise and I would have eaten in an unhealthy manner. I am not going to defend the purchase of Spinach Pie and the Light Ice Tea but every once in a while those should be OK. I have limited the consumption of sugar and artificial sweeteners significantly. I probably consume a can of light soda or iced tea per week. It shouldn't be so bad.

The chicken, the broccoli and the salad material should provide me enough lunches and dinners till Wednesday when I will be travelling again. I think there will be even leftover chicken which I might end up freezing.

So many choices we have to make within a day... I feel good about my choices today.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Home!

I came home very early this morning. I still cannot fly so I take the stupid bus which takes 8 hours at night. I have a heavy case of my period so, as soon as I got home, I took everything out of my suitcase, dumped them on the floor by the washing machine, took off what I was wearing and added them to the pile and jump in the shower. After a nice relaxing short shower I went to bed and opened my eyes at lunch time.

I am done with all the laundry as I am typing this. This is a no spend day for me so, I am eating out of my freezer. I do not have the stamina to go out and do grocery shopping for the week so, that will be done tomorrow. I  had the last of the homemade yogurt so, I must go shopping.

I have been throwing out lots of worn out underwear lately so, I checked my stash to see if new underwear shopping is on the horizon. It turned out that it is. I took out 5 new underpants which brought my stock to under 10. I usually stock up on underpants when they are on sale and always have lots of new ones still in their original packages. I think I bought new ones over a year ago so, no wonder my stash is now so low.

There are a couple of stores I would like to check out so, probably, Monday is a better day to do that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Important Milestones in May 2014!

I have 6 more months to go on the bank debt for my rental property. In May 2014, I will be the proud owner of two apartments one being my primary residence free and clear. Both apartments are humble, small residences with 2 bedrooms. Right now I am paying more to the bank than I can collect as rent on the second property. However, finishing off the payments in 3 years was important to me.

I am so looking forward to May. I will have a significant breathing room in my budget and will start saving for more home renovation, a vacation in the US and a new car in 2018.

The best part is; after May 2014, my passive income will be just enough to cover all my living expenses. What I bring in due to the part-time consulting job will be icing on the cake.

In my country, we did not have retirement accounts like the 401Ks or the IRAs up until 2003. The Social Security system was sufficient up until the l1990s but, due to poor political decisions, people could retire early and the social security system started showing signs of insufficiency. The Government raised the retirement age gradually but it is still low when compared to developed nations. In 2003, a private system was introduced as a voluntary supplement to the social security which is similar to the Roth IRA in the US. I joined the system in May 2004. The system requires a minimum of 10 years of active payment and a minimum of 56 years of age to take advantage of the full tax benefits.

The Government is matching our payments by 25% to encourage participation to this system. Of course it does have a cap. They contribute a maximum of USD 127 per month. To me, that is free money to be snatched up. My mandatory 10 years will also be up in May 2014 but, I shall continue contributing to the system as long as the Government support continues. I am 9 years away from 56.

Many people were skeptical about the system and so was I but, it turned out to be a good deal. However, it is not something I would solely depend on. I read a lot of US blogs and select the funds in my retirement account based on what I learn from them.

Hope, I will reach financial freedom in May 2014, in good health too...


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Reviewing Bills help save money

Today, as I was looking at my credit card bill, I have realized that the bank was charging me about 50 cents to process an automated payment for ADSL. That is not a significant amount but it is a stupid charge. I immediately cancelled that payment and set up a new automated payment with my other bank. That one does not charge me anything.

I had never seen that charge before so, I am assuming it is something new. I didn't even bother contacting the bank, just made the change.

I think everybody is after our hard earned cash one way or the other and we should be alert to keep our money in our pockets.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Found Money!

As I was trying to control clutter in my pocketbook and my wallet, I came across a return merchandise credit note which I had totally forgotten. It is from a Home Depot style store in Turkey. It is worth a little over USD 50. I was so happy an I immediately thought of replacing the hangers in my closets with those velvet covered ones and went to see how many I would need.

The moment I opened my closet, I just looked at all the sturdy hangers that served well up until today and decided to give it some time to think this over. The note is valid for a whole year and what is the rush? Why should I throw away perfectly good hangers?

I may actually end up buying something I truly need vs. velvet covered hangers that I want.

Besides, I should take down my kitchen cabinets to see what items need replacing and what items can be given away. If I need something replaced, I can use the store credit for that purpose. If not, I can hold onto the note until something I truly need comes up.

Oh the shopping bug! Go away!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The 7 things before the New Year Challenge

There are 7 weeks till December 31st so I have decided to challenge myself to de-cluttering and re-organizing 7 areas at home.

They are as follows:

1. Guest Bedroom closets and the junk drawer
2. Bedroom closet and the bookcases
3. Living Room console and the TV stand
4. Balcony storage unit and the balcony in general
5. Kitchen cupboards
6. The fridge and the freezer
7. The car

I am going to attack one of those places every week and break down the task into days so that I will not feel overwhelmed and give it up all together (I hope).

Now the question is: Where do I start? Where do I start?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stuffed Grape Leaves, Meat Patties... A day of cooking...

Yesterday I bought some grape leaves and stuffed them with a mixture of ground beef, onions, rice and parsley. I love this. I think it is my favorite dish but the leaves were not too great so some of them got wasted. I ended up with more ground beef mixture than I wanted so I rolled them into meatballs and cooked them in tomato sauce and added the remainder of the broccoli I bought last week. That is going to be tonight's dinner.

Tomorrow night I am having some of the stuffed grape leaves and freezing the rest.

I made patties with the remaining beef and used up the remaining parsley. I have 6 portions of patties in the freezer as of this moment.

For tomorrow's lunch, I will take down the frozen eggplants which I believe spent too much time in that freezer. Tomorrow's lunch and dinner will help me in using up the yogurt I made. I also need to use up all the salad material before Tuesday. I will be on a business trip till Saturday.

I snatched toilet paper and paper towels at a deep discount yesterday so, I am happy. I think the paper towels will last me at least 8-9 months. I use rags around the kitchen so not a lot of paper is wasted.

I also came across a great deal on tablet dish washer detergent but, I passed since I already have too much on hand. Last year I had bought them at a very good discount and I still have at least 3-4 months worth of stuff.

Today is a no spend day and I am hoping to make tomorrow a no spend day as well. On Tuesday I expect to spend a little and the rest of the week I get reimbursed for dinners. Breakfast is at the hotel, lunches are provided by the customer.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Do without?

Lately I have started noticing some of my teflon pots and pans are getting worn out. I have been thinking of replacing them with the ceramic coated ones but then, it struck me: What if I do not need all that many pots and pans? Can I get rid of the ones that are worn out and do without them? This way I will know if new pots and pans are needs or wants.

I really should take the kitchen cabinets down and get rid of things that are no longer being used and are worn out.

Sometimes, I feel like kitchen stuff is coming out of my ears. I have some stainless steel pots that I had bought back in 1993 and they seem to be indestructible. I use them very very often.

I now need to find the enthusiasm to tackle the kitchen cabinets...

Friday, November 8, 2013

Slashing my cell phone bill by half!

Recently, I have decided to check my cell phone usage and realized that I wasn't even using half of my plan. So, I called up the company to inquire if there was a plan which would suit my needs better and save me some money. Starting next billing cycle i.e., December, I shall be paying 29 TL (USD 14) instead of the 62 TL (USD 31), I am currently paying. My new plan covers 300 minutes, 300 messages and 300 MB Internet. Took me all of five minutes on the phone and I feel satisfied. It is not a big deal of money but still something. Why pay for something you do not use? Right?

I have a SONY Ericsson W995i phone that I had purchased back in December 2010. It is a great phone which has Internet, some nice applications such as a step counter, Facebook,water level, a navigator (that I do not use at all). I do not use IM apps anyway so, I do not really care it doesn't support Whatsapp or others. It is a walkman phone with an MP3 player and radio. If you only use it for calls and looking things up on the Internet, the battery still lasts for at least 3 days which is something you do not see with smart phones.

Many friends of mine make fun of my phone and tell me to get a smart phone which to me are unnecessarily expensive. Well, unless this phone is broken beyond economical repair, I have no intention to buy a new phone. I had used my former SONY Ericsson W550i for four years and if I hadn't forgotten it in a cardigan's pocket which went into the washing machine, I would still be using it:)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One last thing to be fixed or, so I hope!

As the contractor was drilling a hole for me to hang a picture, he damaged an electrical wire which basically carried electricity to the outlets in my bedroom and the guest bedroom.

This was over a week ago but, I could not attend to the problem since I needed to travel.

Today, the electrician came to look at the problem and right now he is making a big mess of making a really big hole in the wall to get to the wire to fix it. Mind you, we are talking about concrete walls here not any other easy to take down material.

Well, that wall has been 1. painted, 2. damaged, and 3. damaged even further.

It will have to be re-painted after the repair is done and no, I am not hanging any pictures on it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How much have I saved?

My car was approaching the 90,000 Km. mark where it would require one of the most expensive maintenance fees at 890 TL (USD 445). This month Nissan Turkey advertised a promotion on winter maintenance for all Nissans over the age of 3. Their offer is at 260 TL for my Note. I brought in my car today but the promotion does not cover everything that is covered under a regular 90,000 Km maintenance such as the replacement of the alternator belt. They noted those as extras.

It turned out that my alternator belt was in pretty good shape and they decided that it could wait until 105,000 Km. maintenance. I love my dealership. They are honest and I never think of getting my car serviced elsewhere. I was charged only 425 TL (USD 212.50)

I am glad that I was able to save quiet a bit of money.




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is it me or are there others like that out there?

The most common advice in terms of frugality is "Never shop when you're hungry." I agree with this statement 100% but it also has a side effect for me. Sometimes being full makes it impossible for me to shop. I especially find it hard to buy meat while I am full. Being full makes me picky. Many times I walked from fish to chicken, from chicken to red meat and ended up not buying any kind of meat. Then at night when I am hungry, I realize that I do not have anything appropriate to eat and end up eating something that may not be a wise choice.

I wonder if it happens to others?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Participating in a Blogosphere Challenge!

I have decided to participate in SFT's Sealed Pot Challenge this year. Please visit her blog to see what it is like.

This year my budget took a big hit because of some miscellaneous expenses that I could not foresee such as gifts, unexpected and unplanned repairs. Therefore, I have decided to build a fund for those. I am sure it will be fun and I will discover many new and interesting blogs.

Money is tight for November and December and I must be careful. I am sure, I will not be able to make my Cash Goal by the end of the year even though I have exceeded the other categories. However, cash is shorter than I would like so, this is not good.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Getting ready for winter

Today I went to the Nissan dealer's service shop to get my blown headlamp changed. The guy who helped me there saw that I was almost there for my 90,000 Km. maintenance, he told me about the promotion they were offering. Seems like a very good deal. Next week I am travelling but the week after next is a good time to take advantage of the promotion. I expect to save at least 30% off the regular fee. The package they offer does not cover everything that should be covered by a 90,000 Km. service so, they will do the additional work at the regular fee but the total will be inexpensive.

I also went to the tire dealer to get my tires exchanged with the snow tires they stored for me. For a small fee they store tires and it is worthwhile because, I do not have any place to store 4 tires.

A few days ago I took down the winter shoes to the lower racks in my shoe cabinet and stored the summer shoes on the upper racks. When a season is over, I take all the shoes down, clean everything, get things repaired if there is a need and put them away in good condition. This way I never have to deal with surprises. My go-to shoes for every night occasion, a suede pair with kitten heels needed fixing and cleaning so I got that done too.

I tried on all the winter pants I had from previous years. It looks like I will not be able to wear any of the pairs I wore during the last two years because they are too BIG:) I am grinning ear to ear as I type this. So, I moved on to some almost new pairs two sizes small. I have three pairs even smaller which I hope to wear in the spring.

The shelves in my wardrobe require attention so the next thing on my agenda are those. 

Tonight after midnight we are switching to winter time which means by 5:30 p.m. it will be dark from now on so, I think winter is here already...


Friday, October 25, 2013

Finally!

Tonight I set up my old laptop to rip my music CDs into mp3 files. My new laptop is an ultrabook so, it doesn't have a CD drive.

I am not a big music fan. I generally listen to the radio when I am driving. On long distance trips I listen to the same MP3 player over and over again. Back in the early 90s I was a member of a CD club in the US and bought some nice CDs. I also have a nice collection of 70s music which I love the most.

I will load the entire library onto my new ultrabook and re-load my MP3 player whenever I want to. Since I am going to give my old laptop to mom, she will have all the music as well. I am also planning to back-up my music on an external hard drive.

I also emptied my purse and laptop case to get rid of all the junk that creep in while I am looking at another direction and changed my purse. I am not the kind of woman who would change purses according to outfits. When I start using one, I use it for weeks even months until it is so heavy that I have a back-ache just lugging it around. Then I dump it on my bed, get rid of the junk re-organize what is necessary and change it. That is what happened tonight.

I am determined to cure my insomnia so, I stayed up all night. I will stay up during the day too. I am sure I will be able to go to bed by 10 p.m. tonight and go back to my regular sleep routine.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

My grandmother (maternal) always made her own yogurt. She used to buy fresh milk twice a week from a farmer neighbour and made her own yogurt which was thick and a bit on the sour side just as I like it.

Lately I had been reading a lot of articles and comments as to how store bought yogurt contains preservatives and how unhealthy those might be. I do not know if they are all true but, making yogurt for my grandma was such a simple job.  I have inherited her liquid thermometer and I remembered at what temperature she used to put in the starter to her yogurt. That inspired me to trying my hand in making yogurt yesterday. Initially I was going to buy organic milk and organic yogurt for a starter but using expensive ingredients in an experiment did not make sense to my frugal side. I bought Daily Milk which is a bit expensive than the other type that comes in cartons and would last for weeks. I used regular store bought yogurt for a starter and it turned out to be a major success!

My yogurt tastes sweeter than my grandma's but it is still very good. So, next time I am going to use organic ingredients. After all, I need organic yogurt just once and after that, I will use my own yogurt to start the next batch. Since organic milk is on the expensive side, my homemade yogurt will not be frugal but it will be healthy. Being a yogurt monster, I deserve the best:)

Here is my recipe:

1 Lt. fresh milk (34 fl.ounces)
2-3 tablespoons yogurt

Mix the yogurt well and set it aside on a counter top in a small bowl. (It has to be at room temp when you need to use it)
Boil the milk while stirring it frequently so that the bottom of the pot doesn't get burnt. After the milk boils, keep stirring and boiling it down  for another 5-10 minutes.

Take a thick and big towel lay it down some place that will not be disturbed at least 6 hours. Place a glass container in the middle of the towel. Pour in the hot milk in the glass container which has a lid but do not put the lid on just yet. Wait until the milk cools down to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Take a few table spoons of the cooled milk into the yogurt bowl and mix it well and slowly add the yogurt milk mixture to the milk and mix well. Place a sieve on top the glass container instead of the lid and gather and wrap the towel around the glass container to keep it warm. My towel was not big so I used three kitchen towels to wrap my yogurt. I left it for 7 hours. After that, I unwrapped the towels and just put the lid on the glass container and put the yogurt in the fridge. It should stay in the fridge undisturbed for at least 4 hours to set well. I allowed mine overnight. That's what grandma used to do. So, you can make your own yogurt today to be eaten for tomorrow for just a little work.

I think I will be making most of my yogurt myself.

If it doesn't set, you can always boil it for 15 minutes and whey it out to get some sort of soft cheese so, it is really not wasted.

The heat of the milk may vary if you are living at sea level or at a high mountain level a bit. You may check that out on the Internet. I live pretty much at sea level.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2013 Financial Goals Review

I just sat down to evaluate my financial goals for 2013.

I set goals in the following categories:

Cash Savings
Retirement Account
Stocks
Gold
US Dollars

I have already reached the overall total TL amount at today's exchange rate, gold prices and BIST Index. However, I am cash short because the home renovation project I completed made a bigger dent in my budget that I had originally planned.

Here is the situation:

Cash Savings: -26%
Retirement Account: +4%
Stocks: +33%
Gold: -4%
USD: +8%

I think I will sell some stocks to give myself a bit of a breathing room. I just don't know when I should do this though.

Overall I think I am at a better place than I will be by the year's end. I do not know how much income I will be able to bring in November and December so, I may end up not meeting my overall goal. I will probably miss it by 2-3% which will still be OK.

I will start setting goals for 2014.

Monday, October 21, 2013

So far no bad news...

I went to the much dreaded doctors appointment and came back with a prescription. The ultrasound did not say there was anything bad. I am scheduled for a pap next month. I am also expected to use the medication for three months and then see if I can go back to my regular schedule without using the medicine. If all is well, all is well if not the doctor will look into it further... That sounded weird...

I still feel very tired and I am glad I will not be travelling this week.

Tonight I am going to have a nice big salad. There is lettuce, arugula, avocado, chopped turkey meat and walnuts. The dressing will be extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate sauce. The turkey leg is in the pressure cooker as of this moment. When it is done, I will let it cool off and then shred some of it on my salad. Rest will be used for two more days. I will use the stock in a soup which is a good idea for the chilly weather. I have plenty of onions and half a bottle of red wine so a French Onion soup sounds good.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Can't figure out a heading for this post...

Tomorrow I go see the OB-GYN which is not something I am looking forward to. I guess I will not learn immediately what the heck is wrong with me just tomorrow but I suspect perimenopause if not anything worse.

I never realized how drained I was during all the bathroom and painting adventures. I needed solitude badly.

I am going back to being who I was gradually but I suspect if the initial signs of menopause is making me so moody, I am in for the ride of my life for many months to come.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Having a terrible time... (Serious venting here so beware)

This was supposed to be a long and nice week spent with family by the Mediterranean. It started last Friday and turned into a nightmare yesterday evening. I am now at my apartment in Istanbul. I slipped out at 7 a.m. and drove 720 Km. to Istanbul stopping only to get gas.

My mom is probably not going to talk to me for how long I do not know. My sister sounded understanding but I am not sure she understands me. My uncle... Well I do not care what he thinks of me. My brother in law may also be hurt for me ruining their vacation but, my vacation is ruined too.

Yesterday night I threw a fit, a big one but I just could not stop myself. I just could not stop myself from being angry with... everything. My head feels like it will explode.

This might be due to my last period which started 15 days late and which hasn't stopped in 21 days. This is a religious holiday week so I just made an online appointment with a doctor for Monday.

I feel totally out of whack. I feel hurt and I want my family to understand that I do not like to be treated the way I am being treated by them but my mom is stubborn and I am sure she thinks she has no fault over what happened but she does. I love her. I go out of my way to do things to please her. I do not expect a Thank You because she is my mother and she deserves all of my attention. However, she wants everything her way. She scolds me like a child. If I am around she keeps ordering me around to make tea, to serve tea, to get this or that even though my sister and BIL are younger than I am. She treats them like guests and me like help I guess.

All through Saturday and Sunday, I cleaned my uncle's filthy apartment. He does not live there all the time. He is very very very sloppy. He came and went to the place several times and did not clean a thing. There were foot marks all over the place and the toilets had never seen a brush before. I scrubbed the floors, cleaned all over the kitchen and brushed the toilets to get all the filth out. I even washed the windows because mom wanted so. I am not mentioning all the laundry he had left. We washed them and hung them to dry. Thankfully mom did not attempt to iron the shirts or make me do that. She is 70 and I do not want her to get tired over these things. I made sure she did not overexert herself. So, my wonderful vacation with the family started with non-stop cleaning for two days. As I was trying to figure out what to get for dinner on Monday night, mom got very impatient at the store. I had her call my sis and her brother to see if they would be able to make it for dinner and both said no, so I was trying to decide on something to fix for the two us and she just basically yelled at me to hurry up. I am 47 for Pete's sake! People turned to look at us. I was so embarrassed that I grabbed something and rushed ourselves out.

I hung my face and as I was fixing dinner for us, my uncle pops in, hungry and then my sister calls to say they are famished and they are coming for dinner. I told her to get what I got from the store so that we could all have the same dinner together. She decided to go to McDonalds instead. Meanwhile I had been bleeding like crazy for 3 weeks and I was tired physically and mentally.

Yesterday, my sister, her husband and I went to the beach even though I would not be able to swim. I just wanted to get away from home a little bit because mom was still angry with me for being upset because she doesn't think she yelled at me at the store.

While we were out, I walked in the sand so my feet got dirty. When we got home, mom opened the door and she was still cross with me so I asked my uncle if he could get me some paper towels so that I would not bring sand home. He was standing 5 steps away from me washing something in the kitchen and he starts saying things like oh! how I know how to use people, how I start ordering things the minute I set foot at the apartment and what not and in return I said a few words to him and walked over to the bathroom. (I just could not believe my ears. I scrubbed the toilets in his apartment. Is that how he thanks me?) I went to the bedroom and sat on the bed to calm myself but I could feel the anger rising from my toes to my brain and I lost it. I just lost it and could not stop myself. I yelled at my mom, my sis and my uncle and blamed them for mistreating me, disrespecting me and hurting my feelings. For a second, I even considered jumping off the 6th floor. I still shudder at the thought. I wanted to leave immediately but mom and sis wouldn't let me go on a long road trip at night. So, early this morning I left while everyone was sleeping and I turned off my mobile phone. I cried while I drove and felt awful most of the trip.

I was supposed to stay until Monday, and bring mom with me to Istanbul. I just could not wait until Monday. I just cannot handle anyone around me. I want solitude and I know mom will make me suffer for this. She is probably not able to comprehend how dare I left her like that. Now she has to go back to Ankara with sis and BIL. She will make me pay for this rubbing my nose into it... I want to go to sleep and sleep for a hundred years and wake up to a brave new world...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

2014 and 2015 Financial Goals

I have decided to make both 2014 and 2015, years for saving. There are a few mini vacations that I plan to take with mom and one big one to the US but other than those, there are no splurges on the horizon for me. The 30th High School re-union is sort of expensive but only for two nights at a luxury resort. That's not bad.

I would like to accumulate as much money as I can in my savings account for the next two years. Why?

1. I need to re-do the entrance, the kitchen, the flooring and I need to change the doors in my apartment. This is going to be a very big expense. It is definitely a need and not a want. I am hoping to live in this apartment for as long as I can. The kitchen needed an update even when I bought the apartment but, I held back.

2. I need to start a car fund. My 2010 Nissan Note is at 86,000 Km. I am hoping to drive it for as long as it is safe but I do not know how long that will be. Therefore, it is wise to start putting away money for that. I am hoping to keep my current car until 2018 if not more.

3. I need a vacation fund.

I am currently putting the maximum amount in my retirement account that is matched by 25% by the Government. So, my savings toward 2023 are consistently growing.

I am targeting to keep enough money in my Emergency Fund to cover my expenses for a full year. I am halfway there. I already have a fixed amount of passive income. I calculate the difference between my budget and my passive income and come up with the EF number. I usually add another 10% to be on the safe side. Why is my budget exceeding my passive income? Because I have the rental property debt and some other payments.

By May 2014, I will be done with the rental property debt and the installment type payments. That is quite a chunk of money. I am hoping to set up the above 3 funds with that amount.

By June 2023, at the age of 56, I would like to rely solely on my passive income at that time and be financially independent. I am going to put every effort into making this possible.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What is wrong with me?

I do not use any cosmetic products at all. I do not wear make-up either. I look younger than my age and I think it's because I am fat. The fat kind of hides away the wrinkles.

My 30th High School re-union is coming up in May and I suddenly started thinking I should be looking good at that event. No, there is no old flame that I need to impress or anything like that. Rather, I think there are really gorgeous looking women among my old school mates. Some of them did not look so well when they were younger. I hate Facebook for making me feel self-conscious.

Lately I had been looking at my face with a criticizing eye and today I bought myself a night cream and an eye cream. I had done that before many times and ended up throwing all the creams out when I could not remember when I had bought them. I cannot fall into that womanly routine, where you cleanse your face and put on your creams at night. I do not know if I will make a habit of that now.

I did not buy a day cream because I do not like the feel of cream on my face. It makes me sweat.

I also took close-up pictures of my face and eye area to experiment if the creams really work. I do not really think they do but one can hope, right?

My period has been delayed twice lately and I am thinking I may be entering menopause. I should see a doctor and I think I just realized that I am getting old and there is no turning back. I have never felt this strange before but, I feel like I have missed some things in life and there is no way of getting or doing them now. That is weird because I had always thought I had lived a nice and fulfilling life. Strange, very strange...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The results of Murphy's visit

I had a towel warmer radiator installed in the bathroom. For about a week everything seemed OK. But after that, I saw that the radiator was dripping. I initially thought it would be something easy to fix but alas! Mr. Murphy made sure that at least 6 tiles have to be taken out, some more dust to be produced, the piping needs to be changed again. This also means the fresh coat of paint outside the bathroom will be damaged because of the piping. Yikes!

The contractor was upset and he is prepared to fix the problem but I am traveling this week. Next week he will open up the problem area, fix it and leave it open. Since I shall be traveling due to a national holiday, I must find a friend who will be staying in Istanbul to check my apartment at least twice while I am away. Arrrgggh!

When I return, hopefully, he will close up and I must have the entire wall re-painted. The paint will probably not match so, may be I should use a dark shade just on that wall as if it was done for aesthetic reasons...

I have also discovered that the paint contractor did a sloppy job in some areas and called him to give him my feedback. He will come to fix the problems but, I do not expect much since some of the work cannot be redone. It will be like doing everything all over again and frankly, I do not have the patience for that.

When I am ready to re-do the kitchen, replace the doors and the flooring, my entire belongings will be put in storage. I promise...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lessons Learned on Home Renovation

1. Never accept the job done while tired and fed up with workers at home. Take time to carefully inspect everything. Discovering poor job a week after is not fun.
2. Murphy will drop by after you take a sigh of relief. Guaranteed!
3. Something(s) will definitely get broken/stop working/get scratched no matter what.
4. Stop thinking about more renovation.
5. NEVER EVER DO A MAJOR RENOVATION while you have all your belongings at home. Put everything in storage for a month and then do whatever needs to be done.
6. SAVE all the money you need for the job and then some and then some more.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I loaned money to a friend...

I know it may not be a wise move to loan money to friends but this friend of mine is no such person. I trust her with my life so, that is how trustworthy she is. When I was buying my apartment she insisted to help me out since she did not want me to get a big loan from the bank. I told her exactly how long it would take me to pay it back and she had agreed to it.

Luckily, that year I had a nice bonus and I paid her back earlier than I had promised her.

She recently bought her own place and I immediately offered her money in case she needed it. Initially she had declined but after finding out quite a number of things that had to be redone, she told me she might need the money after all.

I am happy that I could reciprocate.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Theme for 2014

After spending so much money this year the Theme for 2014 is obviously "SAVING" for me.

I was hoping to visit the US for a couple of weeks in 2014 but, before I reach a certain amount of savings, I will not permit myself to do that:)

The part-time work world is very fluctuating and although I thought I had been doing rather well, I just realised that, I could have done much much better. So, starting on October 1st, I am tightening the belt and re-start tracking my spending.

Home renovation is addictive. Now, I can think of 10 things to replace or renovate which I really shouldn't. Here is what is allowed between now and the New Year's:

A new trash can for the new bathroom (want but cheap) 30 TL
New Curtain Rods (need) 200 TL
New Curtains (want)
New Curtains for the kitchen (need) 80 TL
New water glasses I fell in love with at IKEA (want) (They are cheap, I'm getting them!) 40 TL DONE!
New Light fixtures for the bedrooms (one is a need, the other a want) 150 TL DONE! 90 TL ACTUAL
Miscellaneous 200 TL

The budget: 700 TL

That is all that I am allowing myself to spend till the end of this year. Hopefully by then, the renovation fairy will leave.



Friday, September 20, 2013

I promise never to fret over insignificant things...

I have been complaining about how my apartment is a mess, how I want it back, how I am looking forward to having it cleaned and settling back in...

Well, I just found out that a High School friend of mine just lost her life leaving behind a beautiful daughter and a loving husband at the age of 46 due to a car accident...I did not know her very well but I knew her. Such a slap in the face...

God bless her and may she rest in peace... I am so sorry...

Day 1 - Paint!

The contractor and his two workers are in. It took them a good hour to gather and cover everything. They just started repairing the damaged walls and painting the ceilings. I just cannot wait this to be over!

I am sitting in a director's chair with my ultrabook on my lap, writing this. I will also be trying to squeeze in some work today.

I keep reminding myself that, the apartment was neglected for a loooooong time and it was about time I did this. Once it is over, I am sure I will love it.

Besides, there has been and will be so many changes such as the whole bathroom, upholstery of everything in the family room and the color of the walls that, the apartment will look like new. It will be worth it. Right?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Want my home back!

The bathroom renovation is done and it is time for the paint job. Tomorrow the contractor is coming in and he estimates he will be done in two days. On Sunday my dear cleaning lady promised to come and help me. God bless her! She is taking care of her baby granddaughetr during the week so, she wouldn't be able to come during the week and I will be travelling next week anyway.

The apartment is a mess. Everything is in a place where it doesn't belong.

I had the last two heaters taken down today. I had replaced the others so, now the remaining two will also be replaced after the paint business.

I now need to go and purchase some papers to use as curtains since I am going to take down all of the curtains early tomorrow. I keep moving stuff to the closed balcony which has been painted early this year.

I am drained both physically and financially. I will be over the budget by about 1000 TL in general. The bathroom project was under budget by 400 TL but other things keep popping up here and there. For instance, I forgot about the carpets that need to be cleaned. It is not a lot of money but stuff add up quickly. I just called the cleaner to arrange for a pick up today.

I am so looking forward to have the paint done and have the home put back together. There are some minor expenses I am planning but, I will not be doing anything major.

I went to see the upholstery guy the other day. I must say he did a terrific job. He is keeping my love seat, TV Chair and dinner chairs until I get the apartment cleaned. That was one of the unplanned expenses but I think, it will be worth it.

My apartment was not presentable for a very long time and all these repairs have become necessities.

I am planning to re-do the entrance, the kitchen and the balcony tiles in 2015. I may end up changing the flooring in other parts of the apartment too because the floors are squeaky. The contractor I had hired when I bought the apartment did a clumsy job. Anyway, that is too far off and I will make a good budget and save all the money required before I pull the trigger on those.

Writing about all this made me tired so off I go to relax!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chios Island - SAKIZ ADASI

I was traveling for work last week and I went to Chios for the weekend thinking that I would have to spend this week in Izmir again but, my plans had to be changed but I went to CChios anyway since I had already booked the place.

It is a beautiful island but I wouldn't go there on a weekend ever again. I think, going on a Monday morning and coming back on Friday would be ideal. Since it is only a 40 minute ferry ride away too many of my country folk go there to spend the weekend and they drive up the hotel prices and snatch all the reasonably priced rental cars.

I had a nice and relaxing time, visited some historical places, swam at two different beaches, had nice food and generally enjoyed my time there.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day Umpteeen- Home Renovation Part: I AM FED UP!

I am returning home tonight. My bathroom has a working but wobbly toilet (it hasn't been secured yet), a wobbly sink (not secured yet either) and a working washing machine. Can't take a shower yet and can't put back all the stuff in there since the bathroom furniture hasn't been installed yet.

I want my bathroom fully functioning by the end of tomorrow. The contractor has so far done a good but a slow job so he probably got yelled at by some other customer waiting in line and therefore decided not to come and work on my bathroom while I am away. So, I just called him to tell that I am expecting the work to be done by tomorrow evening.

What remains to be done:
Installation of the shower and the shower cabin
Installation of the mirror cabinet and other cabinets
Installation of the lamps I bought

The sink cabinet has been installed but it has problems so that must be fixed.

All this could have been finished last week but, the contractor lost three days last week claiming that he was sick. I wish him well if he were really sick but it sounded more like taking advantage of the long weekend due to Victory Day in Turkey. I hope, I am wrong.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

No mom, I do not need a bigger apartment...

I have been living in Istanbul for the last 13 years. My mom used to come and stay for a few weeks every year in the past. Now that I am technically retired and working part-time and that I am on a diet which will probably last for at least two years, she decided she should spend most of her time with me. So out of 8 months of 2013, she was with me for 6 months. I love mom to pieces but I have to admit, it is tough to live with someone if you enjoy being a lone wolf.
She manages to get on my nerves and I manage to get on her nerves every once in a while. What irks me most is that she keeps saying it would be nicer if I had a three bedroom apartment. I do not think so. Yes, my apartment is small but so are the costs associated with maintaining it. Besides, I do not have the funds to get a bigger apartment and I am probably not likely to ever save enough money to do so. I also see no compelling reason for it.

I am saving Money for the future to;
1.       Travel to the US for a month or so in 2014
2.       Re-do the kitchen, the entrance and the balcony some time in 2016
3.       Replace my car some time in 2018-19
4.       Have a fat cash cushion just in case a big health crisis happens


I think mom like spending time with me and she would feel more comfortable if I had a larger house. She may be lonely back in her own apartment even though my sister lives in the same city. She is working, she is married and she has one very sick mother-in-law. Mom gets to see my sister may be once a week if she is lucky. Besides, since mom thinks she has other responsibilities, she does not like asking my sister run errands for her. My sister surely knows this but does not step out of her comfort zone to spend more time with her or do things for her. I am not criticizing her because everyone is entitled to have a life of her own and so do I. 

So, I have got mixed feelings about the future of my living arrangement with mom. Does this make me a bad person? I do not know…

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 4 - Home Renovation Part 4

The contractor called to say he was sick and that he will not show up today or tomorrow. He will resume work on Monday. On Tuesday I am going to Izmir and will come back on Friday. He is hoping to be done by then but I am not so hopeful. The shower cabin will probably not be ready.

This sucks but, I just have to live with it.

IKEA delivery is today. So, I shall wait for them to show up and then leave home for a meeting.

The new piping was installed yesterday and so far there are no leaks. I will come by the house to check it out over the weekend.

Even though, I had budgeted for this, spending so much money all at once is making me nervous. I am hoping there will be lots of work during the last quarter of the year so that I can build up a bit more cash cushion. Meanwhile, I am not going to spend money on things other than absolute necessities.

I asked this contractor about pricing the paint job and he gave me a high quote. I know he has other work lined up already so that may be why because the current job he is doing was a good price. I called up another guy whose work I had seen and liked and without seeing the apartment he quoted half the price. After the bathroom is done, I will ask this other guy to come see the apartment and give a firm quote.

I am hoping to have the paint job done on the week of September 16th if possible.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 3 - Home Renovation Part 3

My poor feet hurt... I have a step calculator app on my mobile and according to that I have walked 7389 steps yesterday. For me that is a lot, for cardiologists, it is not enough exercise for a healthy heart. Well, I will work on that.

The carpenter had given a 2,000 TL quote for fancy bathroom cabinets for my tiny bathroom. I have visited every store in my immediate area and finally decided to get my cabinets from IKEA. Yesterday, I bought these;

A Sink cabinet
A Sink
Two mirror cabinets to put side by side over the sink
Two TV Cabinets in matching color to install on top of the washing machine. Why TV cabinets? Because they were the exact depth I wanted.
Two legs to support the sink cabinet

All for 1,028 TL. I have saved a lot of money by choosing to go the IKEA way.

I like IKEA because, you can mix and match pieces like LEGOs. My sister gave me the idea about the TV cabinets and I think it makes a lot of sense. Some people say that the humidity may damage them in the long run but even if that happens, I could easily replace them because they were the cheapest items that I bought. On the other hand, if I had paid 2,000 TL for fancy bathroom cabinetry, even a small scratch would upset me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 1 - Home Renovation Part 2

Yesterday the contractor and I went to the hardware store to order the tiles but alas! They were out of borders. I was disappointed but did not give in. I dropped the contractor at home for him to get started and I started calling other stores of the same chain. I ended up getting a different but even a nicer border. Yay!

I bought the borders and brought them home and ordered the rest of the tiles to be delivered today. I initially thought, I could buy them too but the packages are so heavy, I decided against it. Besides my car has already been handling way too much abuse.

The contractor took down the ceiling, took out everything except the potty. Today, he and his colleaguse will take down all the tiles and put in new pipes. He thinks he will lay the tiles on Monday.

Once the tiles are delivered, I shall go to the upholstery place. I think I will buy the fabric for the chairs from them. The place where I got the fabric for the love seat and the TV chair did not have much of a selection contrary to what I remembered.

So far there is way too much dust around but today it will be even dustier. When the contractor leaves tonight, I will take out the plastic sheets and put new ones down.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Day Before - Home Renovation Part 1

This morning I went to the hardware store to buy supplies for preventing dust getting to places where it shouldn't. I am placing cardboard on the floors to prevent scratches and dirt. I have put up nylon covers on certain places in the kitchen. Using lots and lots of tape, I must say.

In an hour or so, the upholstery guy will show up to get my furniture and to give me a quote on the chairs. The place where I bought the fabric for the furniture has matching fabric for the chairs. The price was reasonable so I may go that route.

I emptied out the bathroom leaving just a couple of things  for a last load of laundry and a last shower:(

Here are some pictures:
Behind the shower cabin

The Horrible Ceiling

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Getting Ready

The bathroom renovation starts Tuesday. I am already freaking out. People are telling me it will be messy and dust will get everywhere so, I decided to take some extreme precautions. Early tomorrow I need to go to a hardware store to purchase additional material to cover and tape everything that might get dusty.

The guy who will change the covers on my TV chair, the love seat and the ottoman will come and get the material and the furniture tomorrow. I have decided to change the dinner table chair covers as well. So, he will be taking them too if I like his price. My total budget for the furniture was 2,400 but with the chairs, I do not know how much it will be. I will ask him to price the chairs and decide whether I should go ahead with those or not.

Since this is the only bathroom that I have, going to potty and taking a shower will be fun! I have lined up a few friends for showers. For the other thing, I will just use either of the gas stations or the mall nearby.

I just want to shut my eyes and when I open them again, I would like to see a brand new bathroom, a nicely painted home and wonderfully upholstered new looking furniture. Yeah right!

Some people told me it would be much more easier to have put the entire apartment stuff in storage and have everything done in an empty apartment but, that would be very costly. Besides, I am not renovating the kitchen due to budgetary reasons so, I do not know how much sense that would have made.

My sister promised to cover the kitchen cupboards after the paint job. She is really very handy. Good thing that her husband married her because he cannot do a thing. My sister does most of the handyman stuff like putting together IKEA furniture, hanging chandeliers and repairing things around their home. Few weeks ago while my sister was putting together their walk-in closet, my brother in law was hanging laundry out to dry:) Fun couple ha?

Very few people read what I write but if you do, please wish me luck... I need it very very very much!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Oh no! The vacationers came back to Istanbul!

Summer is both a terrible and a wonderful time to spend in Istanbul. Terrible because, it is humid and hot. Wonderful because after the schools are closed, many people travel out of town to spend their vacations so the traffic gets better, the city becomes less crowded. Add a religious holiday that can be stretched for a week, half of Istanbul is gone! Last week was such a religious holiday and it was soooooo peaceful here.

Today I woke up and looked at the parking lot and immediately realized that the vacationers are back. The schools will be open very soon and people are returning home!

Today's papers were full of traffic horror stories about returning back to Istanbul. Apparently the traffic backed up 15 Km from the toll booths, the ferries worked roud the clock but the lines kept growing. Such a nightmare! I am glad I have not gone anywhere. I enjoyed Istanbul while people were gone.

Come next religious holiday, we shall be in Antalya but I plan to go a day earlier and come back a day after. Gotta love working part-time!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Accomplishments!

Yesterday was a day of accomplishments. I transferred cleaning tools and suplies along with other tools to the balcony shed.

I took down the cabinet at the entrance and washed inside of it. I am giving away many shoes and boots, a vacuum cleaner I bought but not pleased with and the clothes I gathered the other day.

The entrance cabinet is now home to all my suitcases. This is terrific. I hated having them scattered in the corners of the bedrooms.

From now on if I buy a new pair of shoes, a pair from home has to go. I got rid of beautiful brand new shoes I have worn may be twice. I am no longer able to wear pumps over 2 inches. So, off they went. I hope someone will love and wear them.

I will attack the closet that holds all my purses next. I am sure there are at least two or three that I can give away.

I do not want any extra boxes lying around anymore. Everything should be in cabinets, closets or drawers. I am just fed up with STUFF!

There are also decorative items way more than I need but, all of them have some sentimental value and I just keep holding on to them. I no longer purchase souvenirs with the exception of magnets. I take pictures instead.

I also phoned the contractor I decided to work with and told him that he can start on the 21st of August. Once the bathroom is done, I will have the apartment painted. That should take no more than 3 days. Hopefully I will be done by the end of September. For a long while, I am not going to spend money on teh apartment with the exception of absolute neccesities.

When mom comes back we shall cover the kitchen cabinets with self-adhesive paper to make the kitchen a bit more appealing. The entrance, the kitchen and the balcony floor is on my to do list after 2014. May be I will chance the entire flooring of the apartment then. It all depends on the budget.

2014 is the year when I will hopefully have my dream vacation. I will be exclusively saving money for that after September.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Home sweet-to-be-home!

I assembled the storage shed in my balcony yesterday. It took me a full hour, made me sweat like a pig and had me curse the manfacturer several times but, I succeded at the end. Glory!

Today, I am going to organize it but I need to get some other chores out of the way. I need to exchange something I bought for the "new" bathroom.

Here is the budget for the bathroom

Plumbing 1000
Tile (Workmanship only) 400
Gutting 700
Cement, Sand, other 350
Marble 200
Isolation Mtrl. 200
Miscellaneous 100
Ceiling 200
Shower Cabin 450
TOTAL (Contractor) 3600

Let's assume he made a mistake and the total will be 4000 TL

What I need to buy

Shower Faucet (GROHE) 209
Sink Faucet (GROHE) 199
Shower Set (GROHE) 289
Radiator 119
Wall Tiles 450
Floor Tiles 150
Misc. 50
Ligthing 200
Bathroom Vanity Set          1100
TOTAL                              2766
Let's assume I made a mistake too and the total shall be 3000 TL

A total of 7000 TL
(about USD 3600) is pretty good



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stuff coming out of my ears!

My home is not very neat. I sat down the other day and considered why and decided that I have more stuff than I use.

I had gone through my stuff a while back and I thought I got rid of many things. Two or more rounds of that could work. However the thing is some of the stuff I have gets used however rare that may be. Some serving dishes see the light of day when I have company at home. That means 2-3 times per year.

Today I went through my wardrobe again and got rid of all size 26-28 pants (British). I am now a size 20-22 US and a 22-24 British. I also got rid of some shirts and blouses I haven't worn in a year. I am donating two coats I have not been wearing for the few years and giving away two thermal blankets I had purchased in the US many many years ago.

The shoe rack also needs attention but I am not doing it today.

I have ordered a storage shed for the balcony and I am expecting it to be delivered today. I am going to put it together and store all cleaning supplies and tools in it. This way I will have enough storage space in the built-in cabinet at the entrance of my apartment to put my suitcases, my tennis rackets, skis and ski boots.

There are a couple of things that will go after the paint job.

I have finally had the bathroom assessed by two contractors and I have made up my mind. I will post the budget later.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Roger Waters... THE WALL...

Yesterday night I was able to watch The Wall live in Istanbul at Istanbul Technical University Stadium. It was quiet an experience I must say.

I envy Roger Waters because despite him being my 24 years senior, his performance was better than mine. My back still hurts and my feet are killing me. I walked too much and stood up way too much.

It was an awesome performance and I am sure glad I witnessed that.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fall must be in the air... News from the pantry and the freezer...

Every fall I start thinking about the pantry, calculating how much tomatoes would I need to freeze, whether I should make pasta sauce for the freezer and such. This usually happens late August but this year, it started early. On the way back from Izmir, I was driving between fields of corn,sunflowers, melons, onions, tomatoes and other veggies.

I stopped at two farmer's booths set up by the roadside to buy tomatoes, melons, three varieties of onions, dry beans and chick peas.

Mom and I both like Ayas tomatoes the best for freezing. They are very tasty and they have very thin skin. I chop them in my food processor and add a little salt and then freeze them in zip-lock bags. On the way to Ankara to take mom back home, I think I will de-tour to Ayas to get some tomatoes by the case for mom, sis and myself.

Yesterday we found awesome grapeleaves and we stuffed them today. We will freeze them after they are fully cooked. I bought many freezer bags and containers. We also stuffed peppers and tomatoes to freeze. There were 1 kg of grapeleaves and it took mom and I about three hours to stuff them. It is a lot of work but sooooo worth it.

I will take an inventory of the pantry tomorrow. I think I have more dry beans than I can consume along with  quite a bit of bulgur. I bought 7 kgs of onions which will be difficult to consume on my own. I will share the extras with mom if she likes to have them.

I once found a good recipe that had tomatoes, onions, carrots and celery to be used as pasta sauce. It was truly delicious and hearty for cold winter days. I am thinking of making some this Fall too.

Now I have to go take a shower and get ready for The Wall:) Roger Waters is here tonight and I am going to the concert. YAY!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Going Home...to real cotton pillows...

I was in Izmir for the last three days and I am heading back home tonight. next week, I will be home all week and I love the idea! Thank God!

Yesterday night, I had dinner with an old friend. That was quite nice and we chatted for hours.

I am looking forward to sleeping in my own comfy bed tonight. The hotel is nice but the beds are extremeley soft and the pillows are not comfortable.

My bed mattress at home is orthopedic and very firm. I have my pillows made from real cotton just to my liking and they are fabuluous. Yes, in this country there are still comforter and pillow makers, using real wool, and real cotton if you like. My comforters are also hand-made and they are filled with cotton.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feeling awkward

I have started feeling restless and awkward about myself. I need a break from everything, even myself and I don't know how to do that.

I am back in İzmir for work. I don't like this hot city. It wears me down. besides, Having to spend 3 sometimes more days each week traveling is getting on my nerves.

I love my mom but she has been with me since the New Year's and I miss my time at home alone. I need time to re-do the bathroom and have the house painted. I also need "me time" completely free and restful. Mom thinks she will go back to Ankara late August till I finish my home projects. She has stuff to do at home before winter too.

I want the home improvement projects start and finish...like right NOW! I do not know but I am restless. I think once I am done with this stuff, I should take a few days away from everything. May be I should go some place in Europe. That will depend on my budget of course... We'll see...

So far, I have attempted to get an estimate for the bathroom three times. Two never showed up, one gave me an outrageous price. This coming Monday, someone else will come to see the bathroom to give an estimate and I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will give me a good price.  If this guy doesn't work out too, I do not know what to do. I just want to get this over with.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Terrible Consumer...

I retired my old TV, a 19 inch SONY Trinitron today. It has been 22 years. That was the one and only TV I ever owned.  I remember purchasing it at 42nd Street Photo in New York City back in 1991. It is still in working condtion and I would normally not replace it before it truly broke down. 

I caved in and got myself a 32 inch smart TV at a pretty good price. My reasoning is that mom has trouble seeing the small screen and she loves watching voleyball games but I think I wanted a new TV too.

There was a huge line at the electronics store today. I was surprised to see the crowd so, I asked a sales person if they were giving away the stuff free. It turned out that "some" items were marked down by 30%. Of course the TV I bought was not one of those items but, knowing that the lady behind me paid more money for a smart phone than what I paid for the TV set made me feel a bit better about my purchase .

Tomorrow I will have it set up. I am going to have the cable box changed as well since the one I have is not HD. More expenses...

Oh well, my budget can handle small additions. The TV was already in the plans.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A week away from home

Tomorrow I am heading to Izmir again. I will be gone till Friday night.

Since I am going to spend tomorrow night at a friend's summer home, I wanted to bring a hostess gift and went shopping after dinner. I bought her 4 Strasbourg Bowls made in France. They are rustic green on the outside and beige inside. I hope she will like them.

The friend I am visiting is a new friend for me. She works like I do for the same consultancy company. We met about 10 months ago and instantly clicked. She is a very nice person and a very level-headed one. Her work ethics match mine perfectly and I like working with her.

I have a busy week ahead. I will bring my swimsuit to the hotel this time. It will be both relaxing and a good exercise.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finally got my hair cut!

I dread going to the hair salon. I do not know why but I do.

My hair was long, not too long but long. In this summer heat I kept putting it in a pony-tail. Today I had it cut chin level. I hope, I will not have to go back to the hair salon for at least another 4-6 months. Thank God!

I bought 2 of my favorite hair-dye at a discounted price. I had one at home too so I am all set till the end of the year. I dye my hair every two months.

I know the discount price for this particular dye and I am always on the look-out for that price. I see no reason in paying inflated prices. Here is a tally of what I bought:

Hair Dye X 2
Wholewheat Bread X 2
Wholewheat Crackers X 2
Small watermelon
Fresh Apricots
Liquid detergent (4 lt. bottle)
Shampoo
32 Pack toilet paper

I dropped less than 100 TL(about USD 50) Not bad. The detergent and the shampoo will last me at least a year with what I already have at home.

Then I went to another store to get a large bucket of yogurt (2.25 kg=5lbs) and 4 cans of sardines. I paid 18 TL (about 9 USD).
Believe it or not that much yogurt lasts us only 4 days. Since I will be gone all week, it will last mom for the whole week.

Tomorrow we need to buy fresh produce from a farmer's market. On Sunday I am off to Izmir. Again...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Small Expenses Big Expenses

Home ownership is expensive. Things get old and need repair or replacement. I have been spending money since I came back to live in my principal home in Istanbul. I started with changing the windows and window frames. The bathroom will be completely renewed and the house will be freshly painted. Those are the big expenses in the very near future.

I just paid 50 TL (a little over USD 25) to replace the flushing mechanism of the toilet. The guy who did that told me that the old pipes are causing problems due to heavy rusting. When they take down the bathroom I will have the pipes changed as well.

Other planned expenses are:

The light fixtures in my room and the other bedroom currently occupied by mom.
New rugs for the family room
New shoe boxes, the plastic visible kind so that I will not have to take down everything looking for a shoe.
New TV (yes, I am finally caving in. The 19 inch I bought 22 years ago is still going but mom spends a lot of time with me supporting me in my diet program and she loves watching volleyball games. The other night I realized that the TV is real small and she is not able to see any details of a fast game. I am hoping to keep the cost under 1,000 TL if I can)

I am hoping to be done with home repairs and replacements this year so that I will not spend any money on the home front.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Impatience vs Simple Math

I have only 10 months to go on the rental property debt and boy do I want to pay it all now to get rid of it! The other day I found myself itching to pay the rest of the debt but the logical side of my brain told me to sit down and calculate whether it was worth it.

It turned out that it wasn't worth it anymore... So, I will hold on to the cash and make my monthly payments.

I just hate to see that debt item on my Cash Flow Chart.

Well, patience it is...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh what a loser I am!

After not being able to lose a single gram in a month, the dietician put me on a shock diet for 5 days and I managed to lose more than 2 kgs.

Here is what I ate for 5 days:

Breakfast:

2 Slices of whole wheat bread
2 slices of cheese
greens, tomatoes, peppers
Green Tea

Snack: An apple

Lunch: 1 simit(think sesame bagel), 1 ayran (salty yogurt drink)

Snack: Fruit flavored yogurt

Dinner: Salad and white meat only

I did not feel hungry at all.

So, in 5 months, I have lost 11 kgs (24 lbs). That is a healthy number and I am happy...

Friday, July 12, 2013

STORKS! It's all your fault!

I have been away since the start of the week and I am due back home today. I never expected to travel this much for my part-time work. I get to stay at a very nice hotel and everything but living in a suitcase is not fun.

In my culture they say if you see flying storks, it means you will travel a lot that year. Well, during each trip, I see storks and many of them.

So, the more storks I see, the more I get to travel. What a vicious circle! :)))

Hope you have a have a happy weekend!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

They want me in debt!

I use only two banks: let's call them Y and Z. Z is for everything and Y is just for the credit card I have with them for the last 22 years. I do not have an account there, just the credit card. I pay it through EFT with my other bank which does not charge me excessive fees because I am retired.

I have only 10 months of paying down debt left on my rental property with Z. Other than that I have no consumer debt. I pay my credit card every month and never pay a penny of interest.

Today, I received a call from Y and the nice young lady (read pushy call center agent) told me there was an advantegous credit package they have designed just for me (yeah, right!). I nicely (really nicely) told her that I do not need any loans. She kept saying but that was a really sweet deal. I told her again that I have no use for a loan. Isn't that enough reason to decline a loan? I guess at that point she understood that I am really a bad customer (they cannot make money over me) and we hung up.

I understand banks when they have these campaigns over the radio, the Net and even on TV but why bother calling someone who has not once asked for a loan from your bank?

CRM or no CRM that must be the question.