Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Plans

I did not have any summer plans since we had a mini vacation in May and I spent three days on the Mediterranean for my 30th anniversary of High School graduation. Besides, this is a year to save and work is somewhat slow.

My mom has a cousin who has a summer cottage on the Aegean not too far from Izmir. She kept inviting us over and I figured, since I will be going to Izmir for work anyway, we could drive down there a few days in advance to spend some time with her and then I could go to work while mom stays with her cousin. Then I could go back and spend 3-4 days with them and take mom back to Istanbul.

This way, I can get to swim and relax for a few days. Except for the gas money, this can be a real inexpensive trip. So, as soon as my work plans are fixed, we shall plan this trip.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back to Flying! Thanks to a friend...

I had mentioned previously that I started becoming uncomfortable flying after a bad turbulence experience some years ago. About a year ago I stopped flying altogether because it was making me extremely nervous almost similar to a panic attack. Then I started driving.... a lot. I also starting taking long bus trips. Took 9 hours to get to places where it would be only an hour of flying.

A month ago a very good friend of mine decided that she was worried about me travelling so much. She tried very hard to get me an appointment with a therapist who used EFT and some other techniques to cure phobias and even some illnesses. I had read his book earlier and tried using the techniques but, I was semi-successful.

To make a long story short, I went to just one session and I started flying again. I actually flyed for the fifth time last night. Woooohoooo! Yay Me! I am so thankful to have such a nice and thoughtful friend.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Loss of an old friend...

Last night, as I was perusing FB, I saw some condolence messages about an old colleague and a friend of mine. At that late hour I did not know what to do and could not turn to another mutual friend as to how, when, why, how about his wife, son, etc... I was shocked too. As far as I knew he did not have health problems and he was only 59.

I spoke to him about a month ago. He sounded happy and we talked about meeting sometime in the summer where he lived with his wife.

This morning, a mutual friend called to confirm the news. I am so sad... He was a good person, a good father, a loving husband, nice colleague and a good friend.

It struck me that my only tie with my friends are mostly themselves. I do not know how to reach their spouses or kids. I am single and my friends would not know how to reach my family if something happened to me. Nobody knows my password for my FB account or mobile phone. What happens after we go?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fresh Produce

Today we went to a fresh produce market. It is not a farmer's market since most seller's buy from wholesalers. We bought plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. We go through tremendous amounts of vegetables. Mom and I eat a vegetable meal per day and vegetables shrink a lot when cooked. Tonight's dinner was broccoli and beetroot greens sauteed with onions and garlic. I topped it with plain yogurt. We also go through a lot of plain yogurt since every veggie meal is accompanied by that.

Our other meal is either red meat, poultry, legumes or fish and sometimes eggs. We always have a salad with this meal.

Our snacks are fruits, fresh steamed corn, crackers and sometimes fruit yogurt. Tonight's snack is strawberries.

I have a little leftover from tonight's meal and it will be turned into a frittata on Monday. I like leftovers:)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Shopping done! Here is the tally...

As I have planned, I went shopping this afternoon and came home with the following:

5 lt. Olive Oil
2 lt Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cans of 160 g. tuna fish (price was so good, only 2 cans were left)
2 loaves of Whole Wheat Bread
Sweet Cherries
Fresh Apricots
A small watermelon
A pineapple
Eggplants
Tomatoes
A dozen eggs
A bunch of garlic
1 kg. of bulgur wheat
A large bottle of mayo
A small bottle of barbecue sauce
Cheese
A giant container of plain yogurt
2 Norwegian Salmon Steaks
8 Turkey wings (no tips)
2 bottles of de-calcifier
1 bottle of bleach
3 kgs of powder detergent

all for USD 110.- Until the end of the month, I will probably buy only some fresh produce and a couple of meat products.

The oils will last us probably till the end of the year. So will the detergents.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Replenishing Staples

I do not stockpile food items much with the exception of tomato products. I also stockpile fish in the winter at good prices. We have been almost exclusively eating at home with mom lately watching our meal plans made by our dietician.

We shop for fresh produce weekly and for meats bi-weekly. We always have a vegetable dish for one meal and meat for the other. For instance, tomorrow we are having chicken and a salad for lunch. For dinner, we are having string beans cooked in olive oil.

Last time I checked the cupboards and the fridge, I have noted that some staples will be gone soon so, tomorrow is a major shopping day. There are two stores of the same chain right by me but those stores are somewhat more expensive. However they always have better produce and meat. So, I shop there for meat and for produce when I cannot go to the weekly open produce markets all around the city. For replenishing staples like tuna fish, olive oil, cheeses and detergent, I go to another store which is 5 miles from where I live.

I just checked the fliers of both chains and it does make sense to go to the one 5 miles away tomorrow so, off I go to check and finish my shopping list.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Budget Category

Lately, I have realized that I need a new budget line item to replace things that are broken beyond repair.

For instance, my cell phone is almost 4 years old and still going strong but, it is a matter of some time when it will require a new battery which is no longer available. New cell phones are expensive so it would be nice to have a fund saved just for these types of expenses. Small expenses such as a broken hair dryer or a new kitchen gadget usually comes out of my free spending+grocery budget but a cell phone is expensive.

I have a fully funded EF so, may be I should set aside a much smaller say USD 1,000 fund for replacing broken items? Sounds like a good idea but managing so many small funds is a lot of work. I am thinking of changing the design of my budget a little. At the moment, I have an EF and a savings fund which will be allocated to new kitchen, new car and a US road trip not in that order and a small investment basket apart from my retirement account. There also lots of categories such as car related expenses, taxes, insurances etc. May be I should set aside the savings as a lump sum amount and ear mark certain percentages to different funds... I don't know... I should go work on it a little while...


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frugal Month!

I have decided to make June one frugal month so, I am sticking to my budget. Mom and I eat at home and stick to our meal plans (most of the time:). Grocery shopping is much cheaper than eating out even though, we buy expensive items like fish, steak and etc.

No clothes or shoes for me this month either. I have way more stuff than I need anyway.

This month work is kind of slow too. We are bidding for a major project and I keep my fingers crossed for winning it. Best thing about this project is that it is in Istanbul! Yay! If anyone is reading at all, please wish me luck!


Friday, June 6, 2014

47 going on 48

Today is my 47th birthday... I find it rather strange to be approaching 50. Come on! 50! That is old, isn't it?

When I look at my life, it doesn't look so much different than in my thirties except for the fact that now I can afford to work part time and I have some property that I own free and clear.

I used to go out more frequently in the past. I now spend more time with mom.

I still dress casually.

I used to read a lot of books now, I read a lot of material on the Internet.

I used to value other's opinions of me more, now I really do not care.

I used to have boyfriends and after a while those relationships made me miserable. I am no longer interested in a relationship for a very long time now and I am happy due to less complications in life.

I wasn't used to worrying about the future when I was younger, now, I do. And may be a little too much.

Well... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Life is good. At any age...

Live long and Prosper...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Good Debt versus Bad Debt

I must have been born hating debt. I cannot imagine anything that is more depressing and limiting with the exception of serious health issues.

I started using a credit card back in 1990 and I have never paid a single penny as interest. I have always thought of credit cards as a means of payment not as a source of loan. Credit card debt is a very very very bad form of debt.

Student loans are not a part of life in my country but I understand it may be a necessary evil for Americans. The part that I do not understand is the expectation of income versus the amount of debt incurred. If you are studying to become something that will not enable you to pull lots of money, getting into debt for education does not make sense to me. Besides, if I am not wrong, going to state schools are less expensive in the US.

Would I borrow money to buy a car? Ummmm... No! I never did that but then again, I was lucky to drive company cars most of my career, like 16 years out of 24. I bought 6 cars in my life, 3 used, 3 brand new all with cold, hard cash. I have a 4 year old car which I am hoping to replace in 2018 so, part of my current savings should be allocated to that. A car loan may be necessary for some but not for me. A car loan may be a good debt for some people. For most people I think it is bad debt.

How about a home? Well, that is a big ticket item and it doesn't make sense to wait many years for home ownership. However, I would not be comfortable paying just 25% down even for a home. I once did that but, I had a property for sale and had a very solid full-time job. I closed the bank loan in less than a year selling my other property. If I were in my early thirties and if I had a solid job, would I take along-term loan like a 20 year mortgage? May be, I am not sure. Still that is a very long time for things going wrong.

My thinking is probably due to being single. If I had a spouse, if we could live comfortable on one income, I might be willing to take more risks.

I consider all debts bad with the exception of a home loan. It is a matter of postponing wants. Not an easy task with all sorts of things that are shiny and new around us, with people who seem to have everything but, living within ones means is the key.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

But I want it NOW!

I want to renovate my entrance, my kitchen and the balcony. I would like to take out all the flooring to replace the piping underneath. I want to get rid of all the terrible looking kitchen cupboards and redo it with nice looking cupboards. I need more counter space. I want to change the tile flooring in the balcony with new and better looking tiles.

I want all this............ now but, can I do it now? Well... Yes technically I can but, to do that I must dip into savings earmarked for rainy days. I just had my apartment painted last August and if I rip all the above apart, I would need these spaces repainted with all the renovation. Am I prepared for the hassle? No. Would I feel awkward if I spend my current savings? Absolutely! I would be terrified to know that I do not have my cushion for just in case.

Besides, I haven't quite figured out what kind of new flooring I want, how much would I be willing to shell out for the kitchen and other details. My oven definitely needs to be replaced but not the fridge or the dish washer. I have so many pots and pans. Do I need all that much or can I get rid of some of those. I have checked IKEA kitchens and I know what kind of look I want. I must sit down, figure out a budget, add at least 15% to it.

Right now I am saving a lump sum amount for kitchen renovation, new car and a road trip in the US, not in that order.

Some people may prefer to get a loan for home renovation but with my fluctuating income, I do not see how I can get a loan from a bank. Besides, I am against borrowing for anything except for a home.

It is difficult to postpone wants but it is necessary. I am 47 and I am not getting any younger. I do not know for how long I shall be able to pull in more income. When I will have to solely rely on my passive income, I do not think I will be able to buy a new car, do major renovations or take expensive vacations. So, while I can, I must save, save and save...

I had my bathroom redone and my windows replaced last year. Those should last many years. Once I have my kitchen redone that also should last for very long. So long that I would not to replace them again. I do not think I will live here in this apartment till I die although, I have no plans to move out for the foreseeable future. You never know what life brings along so we'll see.