Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hump Day Update

April was a very busy month filled with lots of travel. May will probably be the same but after that I think things will cool down. That means less income but, I am OK with that. I would like to focus on my health and my mom for a while. We fell of the weight loss wagon and we both need to get right back on it.

Next week mom, sis and I will spend 5 days at a small boutique hotel near Cesme, Izmir. I have purchased this mini vacation back in January and it is already paid for.

I also have my 30th High School reunion coming up in May. I will be spending two days at a luxury resort with about 130 old school mates. This is only a small fraction of the Class of 84. For two nights, it is a pricey get together but, the money is already in my account to spend. Besides, I purchased a deeply discounted dress way back in January. I just hope, it will look good on me because anticipating that I would lose more weight, I had bought a smaller size. Yeah right! I am going to wear my go to kitten heel suede shoes for such occasions and my black night purse. I have bought costume jewelry to match the dress but now, I am thinking of wearing my mother of pearl earrings and the matching ring with tiny diamonds. Not decided on that one yet.

Tonight I am headed to Ankara for two days of extensive workshops. On Saturday, I will be driving down to Izmir and hopefully relax for a week. The week of May 12th is a mystery. I will find out about my program by the end of this week hopefully.

Gotta go now...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Was I a mobster in a past life?

Although I do not believe in reincarnation, sometimes I suspect that I might have been related to an American crime family in a past life. I like movies, books, biographies, documentaries about the American Mafia. I do not why but I am so drawn to these stories.

I am a law abiding citizen and I am afraid to sin so, I just cannot put my finger on the reason why I love anything and everything related with mobsters. As I am typing this I am watching a documentary about the Franzese family.

I have watched the "Godfather Trilogy" and Donnie Brasco countless times, read many books about the famous five families (Bonanno,Luchesse, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese), and watched many other movies as I came across them.

Interesting huh?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Everyone! 


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Language or Culture?

I am a Turkish National with a Vulcan nick name from Star Trek because I do feel like an alien in this world sometimes...

I started learning English when I was 11 at a private school, attending a prep class with 28 hours of English per week and then I moved on to secondary school and high school as they used to call them and I had 12 hour English Language Classes along with Physics, Math, Biology and Chemistry in English. Then I attended Middle East Technical University where the entire education was in English.

I spent a little over three years in the US, back in the early 90's in NY and, that brushed up my language abilities as well. A lot of people Turkish and foreign, say that I do sound like an American although, I personally do not think so. May be a little.

Anyway, I have some blogger friends that I follow regularly and whenever I want to post a comment about certain situations I have a tough time wording my thoughts. I used to think that was a language issue but now I am inclined to think it is more of a culture issue.

Let me explain myself with an example: Someone posts pictures of an adorable baby and I want to say something like "May God give her a long and prosperous life"or "I hope her fortune will be good/nice/clear/happy" or "I wish she never crosses paths with bad people/bad influence" but these are really not things that the English speaking world use. It is mostly in my culture to say things like these.

I feel stupid because I cannot express myself in these situations well enough. Strange...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Just got a new tenant!

The real estate agent called me today to tell me that a couple(both working) decided to rent my apartment. I had to discount the rent a little bit but the important thing is that they pay regularly and on time. Tomorrow I get paid my first rent. Nice!

I am sooooo glad. The whole rent money is going to my retirement account from now on and since the payments on this rental apartment will be gone come next month, I feel very relieved.

A cookie and a cup of tea to celebrate!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cheap and effective oven cleaner...

I had been ignoring my oven for a very loooong time. Such a loooong time that I am ashamed to tell how long.

Anyway, I decided to look online for an effective cleaning product that would take years of yuck out. It looks like there are pretty good and very chemical alternatives out there. I was searching for a safer and environmentally better alternative and  I found this on YouTube Video. Although there is dish washing detergent (which I have by the ton) in it, I think this is a more environmentally sound alternative. I even took the oven door out just like she shows. Yay me! Thanks to the lady who posted this.

During the last few months, whenever I put something in the oven a bad fume was coming out and I was thinking of getting a new oven. I checked the prices and they are nowhere near my budget. Besides, I am thinking of renovating my kitchen in a few years.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Next time I am using my brain

I have mentioned that I like deals and that I hoard TP but moving the detergent around and grouping them showed me that I was probably scoring "dealls" without thinking or planning. Thus, without the use of my gray matter.

Here is what I have:

Fabric softener: Got enough to last at least 18 months. I do not use it for every load.
Dish washing Liquid: Got enough to last at least 2 years!? What was I thinking?
Liquid Detergent for colors, All Purpose Cleaner, Dish washing tablets, Shower Gel: Got enough to last at least 1 full year if not more.

Detergent shopping freeze is in effect until further notice! And THIS IS AN ORDER T'POL!




Friday, April 11, 2014

One place for everything

Before my business trip, as I was looking for something at home, I have realized that I have too much detergent of certain kinds. I probably have more than a year's worth of stain remover. Same thing goes for color safe detergent. The problem is that I store these things in three different places and whenever I score a real deal, I buy this stuff without checking my inventory.

I am thinking of moving all laundry detergent to the balcony and the dish washing detergents and other cleaners  under the sink. Gotta go and do that right away...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Heading Home

After an intensive 3-day work week, I am headed home tonight. I need lots of rest. I also know that there are quite a few house chores to take care of. Sigh...

I still can't fly and these trips are tiring me down and jeopardizing my sleep patterns. I am not complaining though because I need the money.

In May, I am having a 5-day vacation with Mom, Sis and BIL all paid way back in January. Breakfasts are included bu,t the lunches and dinners have to be out of pocket along with gas money. I have already budgeted for these and set aside the required money.

I am also going to my 30th High School re-union in May in Antalya. It is a very expensive two-day trip but, it is an important celebration and I have fond memories of High School. The cost is already budgeted as well.

I rarely splurge large amounts on a whim. I carefully plan my vacations, take advantage of early reservation promotions and opt for reasonable accommodations.

I do not have much planned for the summer because summer is the best time in Istanbul. Many people go on vacations and the city becomes somewhat more livable. I may take mom to Chios for a few days. I enjoyed the island very much last year and would like to spend more time to explore it further.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Once debt is gone...

My rental property debt will be gone come May 5th. I will be literally debt free but that does not mean that money is not going to be tight this year. Unfortunately my part-time work will be decreasing as I am told. There has not been a new proposal given to a prospective customer since the beginning of the year. All we have are the current customers and that may not be enough. So, I have tweaked my budget carefully and things do not look terrible, however, I will be extra careful and try to sock away the same amount of money each month as if I will still be paying the debt on the rental property.

I still do not have a new tenant. Once a new tenant moves in, I will be diverting that income to my retirement income.

I am looking at different types of saving accounts offered by my bank. I think, I will set up a 5 year saving account in USDs. I must set it up with a minimum of USD 500 and I must add a minimum of USD 50 per month. The interest rate is 2.60. I do have a USD savings account but this one will force me to put aside some money every month as if I am paying down debt. The question is how much money should I put in that account every month.

I will put the remaining amount that I will be saving in a savings account for easy access in case of an emergency or in case I need to supplement a given month's income.

I am also contemplating to look around for a new job. May be I should network a little bit to see what may be out there. In another post I will discuss my current arrangement and how it is tying me down in some respects so, that may be you guys can suggest a different approach.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Which debt to pay first?

Knowing my interest in personal finance, a young man recently told me that he had a few debts that he is committed to get rid of. He had been checking some PF sites and got confused as to which one he should focus on first.
I told him that if I were him, I would get rid of the most expensive debt first. Paying a high interest is like shoveling money out the door. Some finance gurus tell you to get rid of the smallest debt regardless of the interest rate but I personally do not agree with them.

I am a debt hater. If and when I have debt I feel like someone is choking me. I keep checking my numbers constantly and worry about lots of unlikely scenarios that would keep from paying it down.

To this day, I only borrowed money to buy apartments; my current residence and my rental property. I never took out a loan to buy a car. I was lucky to drive a company car for over 10 years but that is no longer an option being half-retired. My car is a 2010 Nissan Note at 94,000 Km. I hope to be able to drive this car until the end of 2018 if not more.

I must start a car fund as soon as my rental property debt is gone next month. When it is time to get a new car, I would like to have the cash available.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Stupid bank! and food for the weekend

My stupid bank does not let me make my last payment on the rental apartment early. The payment is automatically set to be made on May 5th and I wanted to pay it up a month in advance just to feel good since I have the money available. However the pop-up message is telling me that the last payment can be made early only through the specific branch that issued the credit. Now, that branch is in Ankara and my BIL no longer works there. So, I will have to wait until the automated payment to go through on May 5th to declare myself officially debt free.

Well, not a big deal really...

Today I am home so, this is a no spend day for me. I think I will be home tomorrow as well.

Here is a list of what I will be eating off the freezers and the pantry this weekend:

Baked green peppers with garlic yogurt (today's lunch)

Half a simit (something similar to a sesame bagel) and a small cup of ice-cream (afternoon snack)

Stuffed eggplant and rice (dinner tonight)

An orange (snack)

Egg and cheese on a bun (breakfast tomorrow)

Stuffed eggplants and yogurt (lunch tomorrow)

Apple and crackers (afternoon snack tomorrow)

Chili and rice (dinner tomorrow)

On Monday I am leaving for Izmir to return early Thursday morning.




Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tally of expenses today...

Today I had been stupid. I let my mind wander when I was driving and missed exits twice. Then I drove by the tire dealer and passed it so I had to sit in traffic to go back there. I wasted precious gas today. So, I was stupid...

Anyway, today I had errands to run. First, I went to the dealer to get the winter tires off and the regular tires on. Then I went to get my TSH checked. After that I went to have the blown headlight lamp changed. I came home and craved something sweet so I walked to the grocery store and bought some wafers, chocolate pudding and ice-cream and no, I did not eat them all.

Here is a tally of what I spent today:

Tire Change and storage of winter tires for 6 months:120 TL
TSH Test: 65 TL
Headlight fix: 25 TL
Sweet stuff: 13 TL
Gas: 100 TL (Half a tank)

Total: 323 TL roughly USD 150

I am glad I spent the money to get my TSH checked because couple of weeks ago I had that checked and got a real bad result so I was worried and I made an appointment with an endocrinologist which was going to be a very expensive visit. Then I thought about my last visit to a specialist and suspected the result. (My thyroid had been treated with radiation and it has stopped working for good and the dose of the synthetic thyroid I had been taking has helped me maintain a very stable TSH level for a long time so there was no way, that result could have happened).So, I had another test performed and voila! my test was normal. Looking at the number I realized that the previous place made a decimal mistake which is a big mistake. Never going back there again!

Tomorrow I am canceling the appointment. Soooo happy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Net Worth

My Net Worth was slowly but surely declining during the last 6-7 months due to trouble in the Turkish Stock Market and due to a very slow December workwise.

This month however, I am happy to notice that there is a small positive move upwards. Yay me! This year is going to be tough with very small breathing room if at all.

There is no sign of a new tenant. Whenever I call the real estate agent, he tells me he is showing the apartment but, so far there is no tenant. I think I should tell him that I will take the apartment off the market if there are no serious opportunities. I cannot sell this property before May 2016 due to tax reasons. Every month it costs me about USD 60-70. Bah humbug!