About Me

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Vacation- Part 1 First Few Days around NY

I got a terrible sinus infection right before the plane ride to the US. I went to see a doctor and she gave me some stuff in an IV to perk me up a little.

I was pretty miserable on the plane and despite my efforts, my ears got clogged.

My friends came to get me at the airport and they were hoping to go bar hopping in Manhattan that very night. Lol! Needless to say we only got as far as the Asian restaurant around the corner.

The next day, we did some shopping and went out to have drinks at night. The following day, visited another friend and had a good time by the lake. (Squantz Pond in CT)

Visiting the Freedom Tower was on top of my list so we did that together and had dinner at the Fish Market and had dessert at Ferrara's in Little Italy. Talk about life on the fast track, right?

NJ from top of the Freedom Tower

WTC Memorial Pool (North Tower)

From the top of Freedom Tower

Squantz Pond

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Best Vacation Ever!

I have had the best vacation in 50 years ever. I am back home safe and sound. Just too busy to write anything.

Will write a loooong post with pictures.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Almost all set to go!

I packed my suitcase and my carry-on. I had to buy a carry-on bag because the airline has a very strict policy about the size of it. It is a cheap bag.

I also bought all the gifts except for some tea and pistachio nuts my friend likes.

Yesterday, I left home at 10 in the morning, dropped my car at the detail wash station. I got on the subway, transferred to a ferry to cross the Bosphorus and then got on a tram to take me to Grand Bazaar. Sounds complicated but it really isn't.

I strolled around Grand Bazaar for over two hours and finally got my friends and their kids gifts. I walked all the way down to the Spice Bazaar got my friend some spices, dried apricots, Turkish Delight. I then went to a museum to grab two books for the guys. By the time I was done and at home, it was past 6:30 p.m. I jumped in a cold shower and checked how much walking I had done: 13.158 steps, 9.1 km! Wow! So, I am capable of doing that. Hence, no reason to stay as a couch potato anymore.

Needless to say, there is no part of me not aching today.

Today, I packed almost everything but I am sure, I will forget something how trivial it may be.

I am really ready to get on that plane!

Friday, August 18, 2017

No more Meetings today!

The investment company came yesterday and we had a long meeting. They interviewed two sales people and our technical team leader yesterday. Today, they have asked for more information in writing. I guess they liked what they saw.

My boss seems content too. He told me that before they met me, they thought I would be OK as a COO but that they would probably have to bring a new boss from the outside. After the meeting yesterday, they said that they found me quite competent in many areas. It is nice to hear that but still, I am not going to think about it any further.

I would much rather stay as the COO and help out a new boss than becoming the boss myself. Too much stress is not something I look forward to.

All I want is to work for a couple of more years. We will see if that will be possible.

It is really hot and humid today. I will finish making the lists of what I will put in my suitcase and what to get as gifts. This weekend, I should be able to close my suitcase and bring it to the studio apartment since, I shall be leaving from there for the airport next week.

I was hoping to prolong my trip for another week but, the airline asked double the amount I had paid to change my return date. Yeah right! I am no idiot. Hopefully, next time I plan to be in the US, I will have no time constrictions and I can stay as long as I like. Why not?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Not bad for a meeting!

I had my meeting with the potential investors this morning. It was pretty good actually. I have no idea whether they would keep me or not if and when this buyout happens but, I have positive feelings about it.

It was one hurdle, I jumped over.

Tomorrow, there may or may not be another meeting. We will see.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hurdles Before Vacation

The company who intends to purchase us is bringing a consultant from abroad. This Thursday and Friday, they will be introducing some of us to this consultant.

I have no idea what they will ask. It's going to be interesting. I am a bit nervous about it.

I am looking forward to not this but the next Friday when I go on vacation. I just can't wait.

The meetings on Thursday and Friday feel like the last two hurdles at a race.

What ifs are invading my brain again. What if we get sold? What if the owner does not stay on board? What if we don't get sold? Soooo many more!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

T-Minus 15 days

I have 15 days to go before my vacation. I know it is too early but, yesterday night, I packed up my medications to last at least three weeks since there is a 50% chance that I may prolong my vacation by another week.

This weekend I will be doing some of my gift shopping. It is extremely hot so, it will not be much fun.

I will be bringing spices, Turkish Bath Towels, some sweets, dried figs and apricots along with some other stuff.

I am so excited and so ready to go.

This time I would like to spend most of my time doing things with my friends. In order to save time from shopping, I ordered everything that can be ordered online to be delivered to my friend's house. I love Amazon!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Smoking is bad for your health and your budget!

We had a stressful month due to some project not going as expected. Although the problem is not on our side and is being worked on, the tech person in charge of the project had some very stressful time lately.

He is a smoker but I did not know how much he smoked. It turned out that last month, he smoked almost 1/3 of his whole month's salary! Wow!

I told him outright that he should be an idiot to do that. He is barely 30, very overweight, very sedentary and a heavy smoker. Now, I am obese too but at least I made it to 50 and have never smoked.

He said, he realized that too and that he would start tracking his smoking. About time!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I think I will Melt Away

It is brutally hot despite the breeze out there. I am sweating as I sit watching TV. All windows are open.

It is almost 7 p.m. as I type this and the weather web site says it is 32 degrees Centigrade, (89 degrees Fahrenheit) with 74% humidity. I have a feeling that they are lying about the humidity.

Yesterday night, I had a terrible time falling asleep. My apartment never gets this warm so, I never needed an A/C. The studio gets very hot so there is a stupid old A/C. I think, I am going to move to the studio and sleep there tonight.

I haven't been at the studio for the last ten days since I had gone to Ankara and then came back and worked from home. I need to pack up some food items and some clothing items so, I better get started.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The best salad I ever had!

I enjoy salads at restaurants here in Istanbul because they are made with many tasty ingredients. I never buy some of the things they use like some fancy grains, kinoa etc.

I always thought half the produce would go bad if I purchased a variety of salad ingredients but, this week, I have decided to try my own mix without fancy stuff so, I purchased the following:

1 small iceberg lettuce
4 big carrots
2 pounds of baby cucumbers
2 pounds of tomatoes
5 beets
1 pound of sweet peppers
Baby arugula
Dill weed

I have used everything except for the carrots and beets for my first salad. I topped my salad with a good portion of poached Norwegian Salmon. For dressing, I used pomegranate molasses and extra virgin olive oil. I am so glad. It was such a filling and healthy salad. I will make variations of this till I use up all my ingredients.

To make the fresh produce last, I put them in paper bags and wrap them with plastic baggies they come in, just loosely and put them in the produce section of the fridge.

Tonight, I am going to make "kısır" which is our version of tabbouleh. I will use up most of the remaining parsley and half of the peppers. We tend to put more bulgur wheat in it. I eat this not as a salad but as a whole one dish meal. It goes best with tea.

I will use up the remaining cooked salmon tomorrow. Then I will use a variety of cheeses and some eggs for protein over my salads. I promised myself not to eat anything else before I use the salad ingredients.

I had an omelette with cheese and dill weed for breakfast this morning so, I do not need any more protein today. The kısır will be just fine for dinner.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Debt Aversion: Is that a thing?

Some of my favorite bloggers stopped blogging or are blogging rarely so, yesterday I started looking for new personal finance blogs to add to my blogroll.

As I was perusing, I have seen bloggers who are doing financially pretty good in terms of budgeting, setting aside retirement money meanwhile paying down mortgages and car loans. Some debts they had were in the neighborhood of a total of a few hundred thousand dollars. Yikes!

To me it is very scary but these folks were happy and content.

I hate debt. I try to avoid it like the plague. I do not have any debt of my own but, I have taken over a couple of payments from a family member because that person is unable to make those payments anymore and we would like to keep the properties in the family.

Every single month, I look at those payment schedules and look at the money sitting in my savings account and I start itching to pay them right away to get rid of them both.

The sad fact is, one of them is a loan you cannot pay in full. There are exactly 24 months to go on that one.

The other is a mortgage of 10 years and it goes well into 2025. Hate, hate, hate that! The only reason why I am not closing the mortgage is that I can still earn more interest in my savings accounts than the interest on the mortgage. It is 10,53% versus 12%. Not a big deal but still... Logic dictates me not to do it.

For some people debt is a way of life. For me, it is the Plague. If I say, it gives me physical pain, it is not an exaggeration.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Still no city water so, working in pajamas

Everything is ready at work for the utility company to inspect and turn on the city water but, they are taking their time and not hurrying.

All this week is Home Office time. So far, it seems to be working out therefore, I cannot complain. I didn't even have to go as far as the studio. Being home is nice!

I just ordered some groceries online and I am all set till Sunday. Some things will last longer but they are mostly drinks and staples that are meant to last longer.

I am trying to drink as little coke as possible so, I am brewing tea in the fridge. Sometimes, I drink it as it is, sometimes I pour in a little apple juice or some sort of sugary ice tea to make it taste a bit better.

I had to use up some tomato sauce and anchovies so, I made pasta for dinner tonight. The next four days will be healthier with salmon, eggs, grains and lots of salad.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tired of Overthinking

I have mentioned a few times that, that my boss is trying to sell his company. A couple of times, we came close to being sold but, things did not work out. Well, the company may get sold this time.

I was talking to my boss the other day and he was so happy that one of the venture capital firms is interested in buying us out. I assumed, they would buy it but keep my boss in the Management Team but, nope, they want to buy the company 100%. They may or may not want to keep me on payroll when the company is sold. That means my job may cease to exist some time in the coming months.

I am really tired of thinking "what if?" every few months. So, I hope, this time it works out and I get to learn what will become of me. My boss thinks, they will definitely keep me on board but, I am not so sure.

I have decided that I have already thought about my options and there is no use in overthinking. Whatever will happen will happen and I have the savings to deal with it. Now I already feel better!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Heat Go Away, Go Away!

We initially thought the summer would never arrive this year. It was unusually cold during the Spring and in June. Then the summer arrived with a vengeance.

It is so hot and humid that I can feel gills will be soon forming behind my ears.

We had a very bad rain storm last week and most places were flooded. The well at our office got contaminated with backing up neighboring septic systems so now we need to be connected to the city system and giving up using the well.

On top of this, the A/C at the office decided to stop working yesterday. I sent all employees home to work from home until further notice till we deal with all this mess. There are only 4 of us at the office trying to make do with a small A/C unit waiting for different types of contractors.

Have I ever told you that I hate heat? I should have been born in Norway, Sweden or some place cool in the summer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Unexpected Savings

My vacation is coming up in late August. I lived in the US for 3.5 years back in early 90s and I still have very dear American friends with whom I am in constant touch, thanks to the Internet and all those cool mobile apps.

Few days ago, my friend in New York hailed me on Whatsapp to find out about my schedule. I always rent a car at the airport when I land. Knowing that, she told me, she would come pick me up at the airport and told me that she and her sister planned that we would stay at her sister's the first night, doing something cool the next day. Her sister lives close to JFK and Manhattan. I know her sister for years and last year she and her husband came to Istanbul and stayed with me. Being from New York, they have been all over Istanbul all by themselves during the day and we had great dinners at night together.

My friend insisted that I should cancel the car reservation and save my money. She told me, parking by her sister's is a hassle. Normally, I do not want to drag her around to do my shopping or borrow her car just in case something happens to it. However, she was convincing so, I obliged.

The rental car company and the insurance provider both returned my money to my credit card and my credit card now has a positive amount on it. This is probably the first time ever. Weird.

I will be staying with her the first 8 days of my visit and then fly to Charleston, SC to visit my other good friend.

I also spoke to my boss and told him that I wanted to prolong my visit by another week if he will be around. I have not changed the return day yet. We will have to wait until his plans get finalized.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Price Comparisons Turkey vs USA

Couple of days ago, I left a comment on Linda's post and shared how much gas costs in Turkey. That gave me an idea of making a list of things to share how much they cost in Turkey versus in the US.

My prices reflect the costs of stuff in Istanbul. This is the most expensive city in Turkey. I have taken the US prices from the Internet. So, there may be fluctuations depending on your area.

I have stated all prices in USD using the average exchange rate in 3 months.

         Turkey          USA
Unleaded Regular Gas (gallon) 5.31 2.35
Ford Focus S Sedan 24,132.20 16,775.00
Jeep Renegade Starting Price 34,895.19 17,995.00
Movie Ticket 6.76 16.50
Iphone 7 Plus 32 GB 1,068.97 769.00
Loaf of Sliced White Bread 1.20 2.98
Coke 12 pack mini cans 5.61 5-10
Box of 100 count Earl Grey Tea bags 4.76 16.90
Starbucks Fresh Brewed Coffee 1.76 2.10

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I will be singing in the rain!

The last few days were exceptionally hot in Istanbul. Thank God, today it is raining and it has cooled down significantly. I cannot stand the heat. Last night, I tossed and turned in bed and were able to sleep only a few hours. The AC in the studio apartment is very old and the remote does not control the unit very well. You literally have to go up to the unit and point the "remote" to make it work.

I am not too sure if the thermostat is working properly either. I am going to try and see if it works. Another idea is to move the bed further away from the A/C and keep it running all night.

In any case, I do not think, I will need the AC tonight. Hopefully it will be nice and cool at night due to all the rain coming our way.

At my other home, the apartment I own, I never need and AC. The apartment is situated such that, it is nice and bright, yet it never gets direct sunlight except for a couple of hours. During the summer, it is really cool.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Frugal Weekend and Food Related Decisions

This weekend was so hot that, mom and I went out only for a couple of hours. We had super simple fish sandwiches for lunch on Saturday. The cost USD 5.68 total.

We bought artichokes, sweet cherries, a watermelon and some apricots from a farm Market. The rest of the weekend we stayed home and ate what we had in the fridge and freezer.

The cleaning lady for the studio apartment did not show up. Money saved there too. I have to vacuum the place tonight.

Today I weighed myself and found out that I have gained weight yet again! From today, till I go to the US for my vacation in August, I am only having one slice of bread along with some cheese and olives for breakfast. For lunch, I will be having soup and salad and may be fish and salad once a week.

Every night, I will only consume either some form of protein or veggies. No carbs at night. No sweet stuff with the exception of very little fruit.

Off to the grocery store I go!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Mid-Year Assessment of Financial Status

As we have completed the first half of the year, I have decided to look at my financial goals and assess my status.

Although there is still time till the end of the year, it looks like I will be missing my Savings Target by 5%.

Thinking back, I now know that I had not budgeted for my progressive glasses and the need for some new wardrobe items due to unexpected weight gain. My estimate for charitable giving was also underestimated by the beginning of the year. I paid all the real estate taxes (not as horrible as what you guys have to pay) for all the family owned property. That was also not in my budget.

Next year, I will be better at forecasting these expenses. I have already noted them on my budget sheet.

Now the question is whether I should update my goal and move forward or wait until the end of the year to see what the real damage will be or whether I can make up for some of the "loss". Changing the goal seems a bit like cheating so, I am leaning towards keeping everything as is. This is going to be a reminder of better forecasts.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Locking too much money up?

I have realized that I, sometimes leave too little money in my non-interest earning accounts as I approach the end of the month. I am a bit obsessed about keeping nearly all of my money in interest earning accounts.

I just had to shuffle some money around to meet the end of month bills because of that.

Was it due to unexpected expenses? Not really. I just felt like donating more money to a charity this month and I did not have my infamous budget sheet with me so, I used the wrong account to make the donation. Couple of days later, I realized my mistake and moved some money around in three separate accounts. Thankfully, I did not miss any of the automatic payments and ended up being charged a late fee. That would make me kick myself.

In the USA, FDIC insurance is up to USD 250,000 which is great. In this country, it is up to TL 100,000 which is about USD 28,600 these days. So, I have to use a number of banks to keep my money in. I only use reputable banks and usually keep more money than the insured amount. Still, I have to deal with a number of banks and multiple accounts. That makes management harder.

Mind you, the interest rates in this country are around 12-14 % for TL and 2,5-4% for USD. That is why, I try to lock my money in interest earning accounts.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Opening a bank account as a non-US resident in the USA

I am interested in parking some of my savings in a US bank account. My upcoming visit at the end of August is a good opportunity to do that because, a non-resident cannot open an account online. I know there are some options but, I would like to go with names, I am familiar with.

I am looking at Wells Fargo, Citibank and HSBC. HSBC is present in Turkey whereas the other two are not.

I am going to base my decision solely upon the following fees:

1. Account Fees
2. Fees for withdrawal from an ATM outside the US

Normally, if you maintain a certain balance, they should not hit you with fees. I have no intention to use this account in the next few years. No fees for a minimum balance of USD 1500 and 2-5 USD per each ATM transaction outside of US is acceptable to me which seem to be the norm from what I have read.

I haven't decided as to how much I would like to bring to the US. That is an important decision and I do not want to go overboard with that at least in the beginning. I am thinking of gradually shifting money to such an account.

If HSBC makes it easy and cheap to transfer funds between the two countries, I think, I will do business with them. Right now, I am not a customer of theirs in Turkey. I looked it up though and by moving some of my savings to an account with them might prove useful. I have submitted a form inquiring about what I need to know. I will wait patiently till someone gets back to me in 24 hours. Hoping at least...

Some of you may ask why I want to do this so, here is why: I am very suspicious about the future of the economy and political stability in my own country. I think the current government is screwing up big time and at one point they may decide to freeze our accounts, limit withdrawals (happened in Greece; a European Union Country a couple of years ago) or decide that our savings in foreign currencies will be converted to the local currency. Or even worse, a civil war may break out because of the stupidity of the Government.

Many people do not think any of this might happen but, I am a born pessimist. I would like to park at least some of my money outside of Turkey at a trustworthy organization yet still within reach globally. Better be safe than sorry...

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Good Team!

Yesterday night we had a dinner barbecue at work. Less than half of our employees fast during Ramadan. So, it was a nice surprise for them too. We have a very large garden and enough picnic tables to accommodate all our staff.

At the end of the night I was looking at the people while sipping tea and my boss came up to me to say: "This is a Good Team. Isn't it?" I told him I was thinking the same thing and thanked him. He said "What for?" I replied "For offering the position for my last job to make good memories". He thanked me too and we ended the night at about 11 p.m. chatting and laughing with the team.

It is the beauty of a small company doing a very technical job. There are only three problem people and one of them is leaving the company today. The other two work off-site so, the rest of the team can work in harmony and co-operation.

My boss is going away for vacation tomorrow and he will not be back before mid-August. He designates a couple of hours each day to communicate with work and the rest of the day, he is radio silent. As the founder and the sole owner of the company, he certainly deserves such a nice long break with his family.

A week after he comes back, I will be gone for two weeks.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BossMan, Olivia and Irene

Jean asked in a comment about the Bossman, Irene and Olivia and I have realized, I never gave you an update.

The BossMan wanted Irene and Olivia to talk it out but, Irene could not bring herself to send Olivia an apologetic message because, she did not think she was at fault. So, she sent a normal message to Olivia to get together and talk. She asked why Irene wanted to speak to her and she replied that it was about what has happened and that she felt it was necessary to talk face to face. Olivia never answered her back because she was probably expecting Irene to be apologetic.

Then I got fed up with all this nonsensical drama and told the BossMan that this is childish and that Irene should stay at least until the fall till after our vacations. Only then we can look for a new person, get her on board and let Irene go. Meanwhile there are 5 companies looking to buy our company so, may be there is no reason after all to let her go.

So, the whole thing is over now.

It was silly from the start.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Plans

I am taking mom to Istanbul with me today. Next weekend coincides with Ramadan Feast, a religious holiday, and a lot of people move from one city to another to visit relatives or take a short vacation creating terrible traffic.

I had told mom that I would not go to Ankara just for 4 days and besides Istanbul becomes such a peaceful city when people leave it. During the last few years I did go to Ankara and suffered terrible traffic both ways. I have promised myself not to do it this year.

She agreed to come with me and stay for a few weeks. Then, we shall be back and she needs some minor work done in her apartment regarding the natural gas line. I am supposed to find a contractor and supervise the work for her.

My boss will be leaving for his vacation next week until mid-August. I have a little more than two months till my vacation starting on August 25th. These are slow months at work so, I do not think, I will be too busy.

I am still looking for a replacement of the studio apartment due to the noise but, since it will create extra expenses, I think, I will stay put for another year. In a few days, I will give up the effort. Still looking just in case.

I am not planning any activity that will require spending money until my vacation in the US other than a few dinners out. So, these two months, I will be watching my spending like a hawk.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Played Hostess on behalf of the Company

Last night, we had a dinner party. Some of you may know that it is Ramadan for the Muslims and the whole day fast is broken at dinner time. I do not fast or practice any of the religious rules but, it was an opportunity to invite our Customers for a nice dinner at a five-star hotel.

130 people or so attended and it was quite the success. I do not know how many of the attendees were really fasting but, that is none of my business.

The food and the service were superb. It cost a pretty penny to my boss but, he does not mind. The reputation of the company is more important.

At the beginning I had to grab the microphone and welcome the guests. No big deal. I could talk longer. I have no fear of addressing crowds.

I enjoyed the dinner and so did everybody else. That's what counts.

I actually dread these occasions because there are many things that might go wrong that are beyond one's control.

Next year, during Ramadan, I am taking my vacation :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy! Toothache gone!

This morning I went to my dentist High School buddy and got my very old filling replaced. He told me there was a large cavity under the filling. He administered a little anesthesia. I did not feel a thing and he was so fast, I could not even believe it, when it was over. Yay! From now on, he is my dentist.

I was worried that it would be a root canal but, that did not happen so I am really really happy. It only cost me USD 50 which is like nothing when compared to the US prices. His clinic is in a very nice and popular neighborhood.

The effect of the anesthesia is wearing off and I am now feeling a bit of pain but, that is expected. I usually get away without taking a pain pill.

I am so glad, I acted fast.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tootache... Yikes!

For the last 5-6 days, I have a toothache especially when I am drinking or chewing something. I hate getting fillings but I think, I should see a dentist sooner than later. I made an appointment for tomorrow morning.

This is yet another one of those unanticipated expenses. We shall see how much damage is done.

My insurance does not cover dental work. Social Security will cover it but then, I have to use their hospitals and probably wait weeks to get dental work done.

So, I am biting the bullet and going to an old HS mate of mine.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Dream Wardrobe

As you know, I had been talking about getting rid of clutter at home and so far I have made many successful sorties.

I was able to donate 13 pairs of shoes and 1/3 of my wardrobe and to gift 2 pairs of shoes (never been worn).

What a relief!

Even after all that, I am thinking, I can still get rid of some more items.

I am planning to retire in the next 4 years (hopefully at the end of 4 years not before) and I can dream of the minimal wardrobe I plan to have when I am retired. It will probably be like this:

1 pair of nice jeans
1 pair of nice black pants
2 nice blouses and a few nice t-shirts

1 pair of jeans to go outside and run errands
1 pair of old and worn-out jeans to do dirty work

2 pairs of sweatpants and a couple of sweatshirts to wear at home in winter
2 house dresses for the summer

Half a dozen t-shirts for every day wear.
Some old t-shirts to do dirty work

Sneakers for everyday wear
2 pairs of boots for the winter
1 pair of nice shoes
1 pair of Crocs

A couple of cardigans and may be one nice jacket just in case.

I have never been a shopaholic but, I still own more than I need. Couple of weeks ago, I was looking at the pocketbooks that I had and was surprised to see that I have probably enough bags to last all my life. I am not the kind of person who changes the pocketbook a few times during the week to match outfits and what not. I usually start using one and until it is stuffed and very heavy, I keep using it for weeks, sometimes months. When I am obliged to empty it out, I change the pocketbook that I am using.

When I was living in the US, I had only two sets of bed sheets. Now, I do not even know how many sets I have between the two apartments. Why? I have no idea! Same thing for towels. I have a thing for towels and I think, one can never have enough towels. Why? Don't know.

Last weekend, I took a mid-size garbage bag and went around the apartment opening each drawer and cupboard. By the time I was finished, I had the whole garbage bag full of stuff to be thrown out. I think, I should do this more often.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

50! I took myself on a Bosphorus Ferry Tour

It is official now; I am 50! Wow!

Today I took myself out to lunch and then on a ferry tour on the Bosphorus. Here are some photos: Enjoy!

Ortakoy Mosque (1856) and Bosphorus Bridge

Bogazkesen Castle (1452)

Pretty isn't it?
Unaffordable Real Estate unless you have 20-50 million USD

Some more real estate

And more... Right on water

Monday, June 5, 2017

My last day being 49... Counting my Blessings

Tomorrow I will have left behind half a century. I am feeling....old....confused...weird.

Life IS too short!

I had a good childhood. I was loved, taken very good care of and protected. My parents were the best and I am so thankful for having them as my parents. My dad passed away, when I was only 27 and he was only 54. Thank God mom is still around. My northern star...

I have a wonderful sister. She is smart, witty, funny, a bit crazy and very loving although she does not like to show it. I am so thankful for her and wishing her stable health and a long, happy life. She had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease couple of years ago and I am worried about her health but I am praying and hoping for the best. I love her more than anyone can imagine.

I have some amazing friends and I am so thankful for having them.

I have had relationships which made me feel happy only for a while. I do not know it it was me, or them, or my poor choices, or their poor choices but, none of them worked. I finally gave it all up in my early thirties and decided that I would be better off alone.

Since, I do not feel lonely and spend time by myself quiet satisfactorily (is that a word?), I haven't regretted my decision.

Financially, I did well. If I had known, what I know now in my youth, I could have done things in a better manner but, even now at the brink of being 50, I am very close to financial freedom.

I think life is a gift and we must make the best of it. I am thankful for my life and ready to embrace what it will bring in the next half a century.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

50th Birthday coming up!

Next Tuesday is my 50th Birthday. I am taking Monday and Tuesday off. My sister and my mom live in other cities so, we shall not be together. I do not want my friends to throw a party so, I told them that way in advance.

Yes, it is a big milestone and I should celebrate but how, I do not know. I just know that I want to be alone.

So, I will just spend 4 days on my own doing what I want to do. There are a couple of museums that I wanted to see for a while so, may be I will go visit them.

I thought of escaping to some place but could not decide where to go. Still thinking...

Once I had played "Tourist" in Istanbul visiting the places I had never been to and it was a nice experience. May be I will do that again. It has been some time since I have been to the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. I may go there. One can easily spend a whole day in that area.

I was planning to buy some small gold coins as a part of my investment portfolio. Grand Bazaar is the place to get them. There are so many jewelry shops that, the prices are the best there. As you move away from that area, the jewelers escalate the prices since, there is not much competition. I have an old gold chain and some other small gold items, I had been wanting to sell and replace with something else. I might try that as well.

We'll see!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Emergency Funds When You Have Some Passive Income

I am a big advocate of Emergency Funds. Even a mini EF with USD 500.- can be very handy in case of an emergency and when you are low on cash.

A lot of people have difficulty in determining how much is good enough for a healthy Emergency Fund. This depends on a variety of factors such as the size of the household, one's age, the stability of income sources, whether there is some passive income and how much is available to earmark as Emergency Fund.

I have gradually built up my Emergency Fund from USD 1000.- to a very healthy level. I am on my own so, after I passed the USD 1,000.- Threshold, I have targeted to set aside at least three month's worth of expenses as my Emergency Fund. Once I achieved that, I targeted for more. Before I had some passive income, I was at one point, able to set aside a whole year's worth of expenses which was quiet an accomplishment.

Now that, I have some passive income, I have a smaller Emergency Fund, knowing that, there is a steady flow of money on a monthly basis.

I do not like to disclose my real numbers. So, let's say;

Monthly Expenses: USD 4,000 (This should include everything)
Rent Income: USD 750
SS Payment: USD 1,000
Monthly Deficit between Expenses and Passive Income: USD 2,250

Therefore, a healthy EF should be USD 2,250 x 12 = USD 27,000
If I did not have the passive income, I would have to try setting aside USD 48,000 as an EF.

Having an EF to cover a whole year's worth of expenses may be a little too much for some but at my age, finding a decent job with good pay is next to impossible. For younger people with a variety of skills, a three month EF may be sufficient.

You may argue that the rent is not a very stable source of passive income but, in my case, I would not have a hard time finding a new tenant in my rental property's area.

I am targeting to fully retire by January 2020 which is a little over 2,5 years away. What if I lose my job earlier than that? I will definitely try going back to consulting to see if I can pull in enough income without having to downsize. I would give this a try for at least a year.

If that doesn't work, I will definitely downsize. My apartment is already small but it is worth more than a larger apartment elsewhere and my monthly maintenance fees are high. I can easily buy two apartments at the location of my rental property if I sell this one. That way, I would create another source of rental income by renting one of the apartments and living in the other.

That means I would have to move out of Istanbul which is something I really do not want to do. So, we shall see what the future holds for me in a couple of years. I just gotta keep saving as much as I can, while I can.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tried something for Insomnia: 432 Hz music

Yesterday night, I decided to try a YouTube Meditation technique to put myself to sleep. The first video I listened to was about relaxing and had very low background music. A lady was almost whispering techniques to relax. It helped me get a bit sleepy but not so much. So, I switched to an Irish music video. I probably fell asleep within 15 minutes. Mind you, I was not watching those videos. I was just listening to them.

The important thing was I read somewhere that 432 Hz music is better for the body and the soul. It may be a myth. However, on reading that, I looked for 432  Hz.music and found meditative videos and used them.

They also say, some people enjoy benefits of 528 Hz music as well. 

I do not mind the mythical hypotheses about these two frequencies. Whatever floats my boat i.e. puts me to sleep, is OK. If there are true healing powers associated with these, fine. Icing on the cake.

I enjoy Celtic music and American Native Music anyhow, so, I will keep on using them to get to sleep.

I also checked my sleep pattern and found out that I had at least two solid hours of deep sleep. That truly is great because, I was not getting any deep sleep lately. 

I will keep on experimenting.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mom and Technology

Here is a phone conversation we had over the weekend:

Mom: The new apartment management sent a circular. What is my e-mail address?
- You don't have one.
Mom: They are asking for it.
- Give them my e-mail address
Mom: But, they are asking for mine.
- I can get you one in a minute, but will you check it out regularly?
Mom: No, I won't (without even any hesitation)
- Ok then, you can give them my address. I check it out every day and several times.
Mom: They are also asking for the License Plate of the car.(She doesn't drive. My own car is in her garage for her and my uncle's use since I am driving a company car)
- I will send you both my e-mail address and the LP over whatsapp as soon as we hang up. (She can use whatsapp yay!)
Mom: They are asking for wishes and suggestions. What should I put here?
- Your wishes and suggestions if there are any.
Mom: No, May be I should just thank them.
- You can tell them you would like to pay the monthly apartment fee through a bank, instead of handing it to a person.
Mom: Oh, they did that. There is an IBAN number for electronic fund transfers. How am I ever going to pay that this way?
- You don't have to do anything. Just give my sister the number and she will set up automated payments for you. Since she manages your bank account, you do not have to think about this again.
Mom: Oh, that's good, I will give it to her.

She has no patience or will to learn anything new. If her parents were alive, they would have been much more interested I am sure.

My grandma used to keep the books of the pharmacy my uncle owned while he was serving in the army back in the early 80s. I had noticed that she was taking the sums manually and controlling her calculation by use of a small calculator. I had also noticed that she was not using the memory function. So, whenever she made a mistake, she would start all over again. I asked her why she wasn't using the memory function and she said, she did not know. Then she asked me to show her and thanked me several times since that was so easy. She was a handywoman and could fix even some electrical items. She was always curious to learn new things. Mom? Not at all...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

TGI Thursday!

This week is a short one due to a National Holiday tomorrow. Here are my plans:

- Prepare the winter clothes and shoes to take home and put away
- Eat the leftovers
- Do a load of laundry
- Wait until the traffic gets better and go home

- Pick up my new glasses
- Sort through my shoes and organize my shoe racks, separate items to donate
- Walk
- Do some healthy cooking for the weekend

- Sort through clothes, separate items to donate
- Prepare warm weather clothing to bring to the studio
- Walk
- Meet friends at a cafe/bar for dinner

- Walk
- Rest

Except for the one night I will be out, I do not want to eat outside. So, I must figure out some healthy stuff to prepare.

I am looking forward to doing these chores which I have postponed many times and be done with them. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Feeling Under the Weather

This year, the winter took too long. The weather is still mostly bad. It is cloudy and rainy almost every single day.

I feel depressed, old, slow and ready to retire for good. Usually, I feel very sleepy after dinner and dose off for an hour or so and then I cannot go to sleep properly. I manage to fall asleep close to the morning and when I have to wake up, I am not well rested.

I need some sunny and warm days, some time to rest and re-charge.

Thankfully, we are off on Friday and the long weekend may do me some good.

I can go to sleep right now at my desk as I am typing this and expecting my lunch to be delivered.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Exercise Log and Weekend Notes

I was able to walk more than 5,000 steps each day over the weekend. So, YAY ME!

I also cooked healthy lunches to bring to work.

Cleaned up my trunk and ran many necessary errands.

All in all, it was a busy and good weekend and finally it was warm enough to go around with just a t-shirt during the day.

I desperately needed work clothes so, I bought three pairs of pants and 5 tops. They were on the expensive side but I have no choice being the size that I am. Until my visit to the US in late August, I am not going to spend money on anything else.

I must go through my wardrobe and shoes to find out what needs to be thrown out and what needs to be donated. This coming weekend is a long one with the 19th being a National Holiday. It is probably the best time to do this.

As I was shopping, I got hungry and sat down to have lunch at a cafe. The people sitting next to me were a young girl and a guy with their mothers. Apparently, they have decided to take their relationship to the next level and decided to introduce mothers on Mother's Day. I think that was sweet but, as they were perusing the menu, the girl's mom said something about wanting home-style potato fries. The guy being truly tactless, jumped in to say that they stay away from carbs and gave a long speech about unhealthy carbs. Haha! That is your MIL-to-be you idiot!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Exercise Log

Only 4330 steps yesterday :(

I am determined to do better but, this is going to take more time than I have imagined. I never realized, I am in an extremely poor shape.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Never a Dull Moment Continued

BossMan told his wife that he will let Irene go. He told me Irene needs to call Olivia and apologize or at least makes amends with her.

Once that is done, he will tell his wife that he gave her another chance.

The problem is Irene is very proud. She would rather leave the company than apologize to Olivia who once used to be her good friend. She believes Olivia sent such a stern and mean message on purpose knowing that she would react as she did.

I am trying to reason with her telling he that she still needs to work and it is not just her. She has a family and she has responsibilities.

I truly do not want her to go and I think BossMan ants to keep her too but his pride has been hurt since he was cc'ed in Irene's backlash.

In a few minutes, I will sit Irene down for another "reasoning" session.

On the other hand, even though I understand why BossMan wants Irene to have a heart to heart with Olivia, I am dreading the outcome of that meeting if Olivia accepts to meet with Irene. Both women are stubborn and proud.

What a stupid mess!

I will let you know how this ends when I find out.

Meanwhile all your suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Never a Dull Moment (Warning: This is a long story albeit an interesting one)

It seems like there is never a dull moment in my life. Now, I am going to summarize you what I have to deal with:

The company I work for is a small company with a very pleasant young boss in his late thirties whom I will call BossMan. There is an assistant who is a nice woman in her early forties whom I will call Irene. Irene is an old friend of BossMan's wife whom I will call Olivia.

Apparently, Olivia started to work in this company many years ago and had Irene hired as an assistant. Then Olivia and BossMan fell in love and got married. Olivia left work.

After the marriage, Irene was asked to help with the matters of the home gradually such as finding handymans, painters and such. BossMan's mom got friendly with Irene too and she too started asking her assistance in certain matters. (One may argue that none of these were Irene's job but, mind you this is a very small company and as an executive assistant, she was expected to comply with these tasks).

At one point, the MIL and Olivia had a falling out in their relationship and both of them confided in Irene who says she tried to keep her distance as much as she could. Of course, she got sucked into it and meanwhile, demands of the two women multiplied. Right about that time Irene and Olivia also had an argument over how Irene was favoring the MIL instead of Olivia. I am not going to argue if that was true or not. Who knows? That is when Irene talked to the BossMan to say that she no longer wanted to deal with the home stuff anymore. BossMan did not like it but he told Irene to stay out of it as much as possible and use the driver to run errands for both of the ladies.

This was about two years ago. Olivia and Irene were not talking to each other at this point.

Up until now, Irene utilized the driver to take care of many errands without a problem. We have hired a new driver about 5 months ago and the new guy is a bit different than the old one.

The new driver is a nervous fellow and is truly being ill used by Olivia and the two helpers working at home. Last week he had been asked to do something which he did not want to or could not do. He asked Irene to do it and Irene blew him off. So, apparently he complained to Olivia about this and Olivia sent a very stern and mean message to Irene. Irene operates on a somewhat short fuse and sent an equally stern message back to Olivia, keeping the BossMan in cc.

Come Monday, BossMan came in to work, noticeably upset. He really likes Irene and they had been working for almost 10 years together. He wanted to talk to me and said that he is compelled to let Irene go because of the way her message was worded. He felt stepped over.

Now, I do not want Irene to be fired because, Irene has two kids at 4 and 12 years of age. Has a mortgage and a car payment. She is well liked by the team members and her leaving would be very upsetting.

I told the BossMan that he should not take what Irene fired back personally and that we should figure out a way to keep Irene. He was reluctant at first but since he is a good guy, he somewhat relented.

More on this tomorrow...

Exercise Log May 9th

Yesterday, I walked home (if you can call the studio apartment that) and managed to get in my 5,000 steps overall.

Walked 10 minutes Sat 3 Minutes
Walked 28 minutes Sat 8 Minutes
Walked 5 more minutes

Normally, this should not take more than 20 minutes. Until, I can walk this distance in 20 minutes and without stopping, I will keep my daily walking goal at 5,000 steps. Pushing too much at 50 can be harmful.

However, leaving the car at work turned out to be a bad idea. I wanted to walk back to work this morning but, it was raining. So, I called the company driver and luckily he was able get me. Since it was raining, finding a cab would be impossible.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Weekend and Monday

I was unable to walk 5000 steps over the weekend due to very heavy rain. Come to think of it, I could have Walked Away The Pounds with  Leslie Sansone. However, I did chores around the apartment and spent both days constantly moving.

I was able to get rid of more clutter but, I think a few more rounds of this activity is necessary

On Saturday, I managed to order new glasses. I ordered a pair of sunglasses too. That is my birthday present for my 50th  birthday coming up in June.

Progressive lenses are so darn expensive. If I were not working full time, I would consider using regular glasses for driving and reading separately. I am working so, one pair of glasses that I can wear all day long is much more manageable than two and I can afford them.

I do not have visual coverage in my insurance and the Government pays only a laughable amount of money so, I do not even try to use that coverage.

Yesterday, I brought lunch from home. It was enough for two meals so, I am having half of the veggie dish I brought today too. I walked 5,000 steps yesterday but it was more walking from store to store at a huge mall rather than walking at a steady pace.

If the weather permits tonight, I will walk again, this time at a steady pace. My back hurt for a while yesterday night but the pain subsided later on.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Starting to Exercise

I am in real bad shape. My weight is off the charts and my back is killing me and I feel like I am being sucked into a maelstrom.

I always postpone exercise, because my back hurts, because I do not feel like it, because I am too tired, because, because, because...

So, I gave myself an ultimatum: "T'pol, you will never get into shape unless you start moving. I do not care, if you have to take breaks every few hundred yards, if your back hurts or if you burst into tears like a spoiled kid. Chop, chop! Start moving!"

I have decided to start walking 5,000 steps each day and gradually go up to 10,000 steps as recommended by the doctors. I am going to check the indoor pool at the apartment complex. I found out that, they clean it on Mondays so, I can at least go for a swim on Tuesday and Wednesdays. I do not like pools thinking they are icky.

Yesterday, I walked 5712 steps in total. 3504 steps were exercise related.

I am going to share the tally of my exercise here every day so that, I have a record of it.

23 min walk 7 min rest
10 min walk 13 min rest
14 min walk

My ultimate goal is to be able to walk for an hour straight without resting and walk over 10,000 steps every day.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bummer! No Chios Trip

Mom and I were supposed to go tho Chios but her passport is expiring at the end of June and she needed at least 3 months of validity (don't understand why for a 4 day trip). We postponed till Fall.

I decided to go back top work tomorrow. So, I am saving two vacation days.

I should have checked everything properly but this never occurred to me.


At least I got to see my sister and brother in law. More on that later. They want to purchase an apartment.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Where did the store go?

Today, I wanted to get new glasses but alas! The store was deserted. They must have moved and I could not see if there were any instructions on the door or the window.

I asked my sister to call the guy who had recommended them to see if he knows where they are gone.

Progressive lenses are both expensive and tricky to fit. Good workmanship is a must so, I just do not go anywhere to get my new glasses. Both my eyes have different degrees. I also have astigmatism in different degrees in both eyes. So, it is difficult to fit my lenses well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Glasses, Budgets and Thoughts on Spending Money

The visit to the eye doctor last week revealed that I needed a new prescription and therefore, a new pair of glasses. I use progressive lenses and they are so darn expensive. I desperately need a new pair of sun glasses too.

I have been wearing glasses for 42 years and I probably could have bought a nice car, may be even a small apartment with the money spent on glasses all these years.

Thankfully, I always earmark a certain amount of money for glasses every year for spring months since that is when I go to the eye doctor annually. Last year, my prescription had not changed so, I was able to save that money. This year, it will have to be spent.

My current lenses were a bit scratched so, I guess it is time to get a new pair of glasses anyway. Tomorrow, I will be ordering two new pairs of glasses. Mom will help me choose.

I do hate to spend money on glasses, clothing, home repairs, cars and etc. The only thing I do not mind spending money on, is travel. I love to travel but still, I budget my travels very carefully to make sure I get the best deals at the best possible prices. This is my only luxury.

At my age, my friends are either paying for school tuitions or expensive home mortgages or may be both. Some of them go to expensive hair saloons, spend too much on new cars, dining out a lot and etc.

I own my two apartments free and clear and the debts I am currently paying are not mine. I am paying them (30 months on the bigger one and  94 months on the smaller one) because I can and feel like it is my duty. I am currently driving a company car so, I have no car expenses. I own a 2010 Nissan Note that my uncle drives mom around in Ankara.

I am spending about 19% of my income on two separate debt payments and saving 45%. The rest goes to living expenses, utilities, insurance payments, and a small amount for taxes on the rental property I have. Taxes are automatically deducted so, there are not tax payments. This set-up allows me to have two vacations per year and I am content with this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Upcoming Trip to Chios Greece

While I am waiting for the lab results and a call from my doctor nervously, I have decided to focus on something more pleasant for the time being.

The last weekend of April, I am taking my mom to Izmir to visit my SIS and BIL. We will spend the weekend with them and on May 1st, we will catch the evening ferry from Cesme, Izmir to Chios Greece. I had been there before just for a weekend and loved it. It is a nice little island with very friendly people, great food, nice beaches. Much much cheaper than Cesme for sure.

We shall be staying there until Friday coming back with the evening ferry. It takes about 35 minutes from Cesme to Chios.

Then we shall spend Friday evening and Saturday with my SIS and BIL. Mom will stay with them. I shall come back to Istanbul alone.

I have booked a rental car in Chios. They do not offer any automatic cars at all. Thankfully, I can drive a stick shift since, automatic cars became popular and available mostly after the 2000s in Turkey too.

I am hoping to be able to take quick dips in water despite the fact that it is still too cold for most people.

This is my "vacation with mom" of the year. Last year, it was Milan, Italy.

Depending on mom's mood and our health, I am hoping to take her to visit Scotland next year. It is a place I would like to see very very much. She wants to stay at a haunted place and I told her she is welcome to do so by herself :)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Doctor visits

I came to Ankara for business and while I am here, I wanted to take mom and myself to our routine heart and eye exams. Mom passed with flying colors. me? Not so much. My heart is OK but my TSH level is 11! Also the eye doctor told me my eye pressure was higher than usual and she wanted to follow that because, that can lead to glaucoma. So, I must be back in a month.

I made an appointment with an endocrinologist for the TSH and he wanted some tests suspecting Cushing's Syndrome. So, the tests will be done tomorrow.

No wonder I was not able to lose any weight lately. Also, this is a likely explanation for my insomnia too.

I am hoping that, I do not have anything bad. Until all the tests are done and the doctor tells me what is wrong with me, I will be worried...

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Lazy Sunday

I got up really late today. It feels like I am making up for all that sleep I cannot get during the week.

Had a big lunch which kept me until now which is almost 8 p.m. Now, I am hungry and decided to have pancakes with strawberry sauce. I bought fresh strawberries yesterday and ate some of them. I still have some more to eat but, the rest is going in a strawberry sauce barely sweetened with a little sugar and vanilla.

I am done with laundry and am almost out of laundry detergent. I must make a list since, I see I am out a few other things as well. Like there is no salt either. Since I will be bringing mom on the weekend, I must stock up on some things. She will stay here for two weeks and then we will have our one week vacation together.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Cleaning Day - 2

Well the walls could not be scraped. The traffic was horrid and by the time I got home, I felt doing absolutely nothing.

Bathroom cabinets are 1/3 done. Tomorrow is another day.

All the curtains are down. Some of them are in the wash and some are already back up again! Unlike  my mom, I do not iron my curtains. They do not get wrinkled so bad and as soon as they are out of the washing machine, I hang them so, I can get away with not ironing.

The electronical items are all in a big IKEA bag ready to be taken to work.

I thought some curtains needed to be replaced but I am surprised to see that older curtains are still looking better than some of the new ones. Anyway, I have decided to postpone the curtain business till next year. Money saved!

Actually, there is a curtain outlet and what I buy are generally very inexpensive so, we are not talking big bucks here. Once I had renewed the entire living room curtains at just USD 85 including sewing. My curtains hang from the ceiling to the floor so, we are talking about a lot of fabric. Many people praised me on how beautiful my curtains looked and could not believe how cheap they were. I tell them where the outlet is and all they have to know is the measurements before they go, select the fabrics and order them. Almost always, they end up not going and spending a lot more money for mediocre looking curtains. What can I say? They must be growing money on trees.

I could not get a hold of the guy to put a new curtain rod in the kitchen. May be he quit? I do not know. Well, no rush.

I think, I still want to go that art exhibit opening. There are a couple of curtains I want the cleaning lady to hang back up and then, I can take a shower and get ready. Depending on the traffic, I may leave the car on this side and cross the Bosphorus on a ferry and then take a cab to the Art Gallery.

Friday, April 7, 2017

My To Do List for the weekend

Today, I am going to leave work a bit early so, I am hoping to reach home by 6 o'clock.

Here is what I would like to do today:

- Take down some of the curtains
- Scrape the wall parts that have been damaged by water during the winter and throw out the scrapings (I will have to call a contractor later on to see how this can be permanently fixed)
- Arrange the contractor to put up my kitchen curtains to come and do the job tomorrow. My walls are concrete and I need a power drill which I do not have.
- Do one load of laundry.

- Wash all the curtains and put them back up (Actually, I would like to replace some curtains later in the year so, while they are down, I can take measurements)
- Throw away junk and clean up the bathroom cabinets
- Clear out all the old electronics, put them in my trunk to bring to work
- Take a shower, dress up and head for the opening of the art exhibition

I am planning to sleep as much as I can on Saturday night late into Sunday. I will tell my family not to call and I will turn off the volume of my mobile phone.

I think, this is enough for this weekend. I am definitely not cooking. Will order something healthy like fish and salad.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Where is spring? And why have I become insomniac?

Blossoming trees, greener grass, less rain, more sunny days... But, I am still wearing a coat! What is wrong with the season? It seems like the winter insists on staying.

I remember nice, lukewarm breezy spring days in the past. Sudden afternoon showers followed by sunshine that made everything sparkle in April. They are no more...

Human kind must have seriously messed up the ecosystem. 

During the last few months, I have started having difficulty sleeping well. I sleep only a few hours every night and very lightly. I keep waking up for no reason at all. The studio apartment I am keeping to stay during the week is noisy so, I was blaming the noise mostly but, it is not just noise.

When I stay at my primary residence, I get to sleep a little better but not as good as I used to.

Can this be the footsteps of menopause? Can it be something else bothering me without me being aware of it?

The other day, I looked at the mirror and was shocked to see how tired I looked. 

This weekend, the cleaning lady will come on Saturday. I will do my best to tire myself out just to see if I will have a good night's sleep at night. 

A childhood friend has an art exhibition opening on Saturday as well. I would like to go but, we shall see.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Productive Weekend

I had a somewhat productive weekend. I had promised myself that I would throw out or give away at least 50 items. So, I attacked the various drawers and my tool box at home and in a few hours, I was able to remove 50+ items.

I fished out all the cords and cables and upon careful inspection kept a few that I needed. I will bring the rest to work to see if technical guys may make use of them.

I am also going to bring an old printer which only works as a scanner and an extremely old laptop to work.

I need to look through my books to see what can be donated. Anything that accumulates dust is my enemy ha ha! (insert evil laughter here)

I think, I can give away some old towels and linens too since the drawers are overflowing.

Bathroom cabinet is also one of my targets.

You see, there is still quiet a bit to be done but handling them in small chunks truly works. Now, I do not see this as an overwhelming task. Also, I do not create a big pile of mess at once. One drawer, one box, one cabinet at a time with frequent breaks is easy. When I am done with a box, it goes back to where it belongs so, ne mess, no fuss, no kicking myself for being sloppy.

Friday, March 31, 2017

High School Buddies

Last night I was out with a few HS buddies again. There is a club building that belongs to the Alumni Association. The service is good and the food is basic but very good. Also, it is inexpensive when compared to other places.

During the summer, they have an open pool that I had never used and a couple of tennis courts I used to play tennis with a younger friend.

Although this place is usually very quiet with just a few people dining there, last night it was very crowded. Apparently business owner graduates have a group of their own to do business and help each other. It is a nice thought but, I do not know if it works well. Two guys from that group was also our friends so, it was a pleasant surprise to see them.

A lady came to tell us that she envied us, the Class of  84, since we get together very often in big and small groups and at a resort every year on Turkish Riviera. She said she was from the Class of 80 and they were not like us at all.

It was a nice night. The other group had a talented piano playing lady and a gentleman who could sing really well. He sang both Turkish and English songs.

I came home right before the car turned into a pumpkin:)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Budget Now

I use an Excel File with several sheets. One sheet is dedicated to the budget, another one shows my Net Worth, another contains several account, pin, password info, another is vacation planning, some others are dedicated to following certain financial indicators like exchange rates of some hard currencies I invest in, the stock market historical data, gold prices etc. Needless to say the Excel is password protected.

On my budget sheet, the top few rows are for my income. For the time being, I have a regular salary, a retirement income and a rental income there.

Several rows are dedicated to monthly expenses and bills such as utilities, taxes, insurances, vacations, cleaning lady and etc. I have a general category for spending that includes all my grocery spending including personal hygiene items and clothing needs plus eating out. This entry is not exactly the same for each month. I know when I usually shop for clothing so, I bump up the numbers a little bit for those months. I have never been able track every penny and make a zero-based budget.

My budget guides me not to over-spend and save each month. My savings are also on my budget so I know exactly what I am saving and how.

I have an Emergency Fund, a TL savings account, a USD savings account, and a Retirement Fund in addition to a small stock portfolio in an investment account. Each month I allocate some money to all these accounts as soon as I get paid so, I do not overspend. If anything is left over at the end of the month, I put that sum into one of my savings accounts. For instance if the stock exchange is doing poorly, I buy stocks, if USD is comparatively lower, I buy US dollars, etc.

I also have a row for gifts and a row for charity. I know when I will be buying birthday and New Year gifts so, I plan ahead. I also give planned sums to charities every month. This is so much easier to manage.

With a click of the mouse, I can tell my yearly income and how much I need for the entire year. My forecast is accurate by +/- 2-3% which is sufficiently manageable.

So far, this approach has worked for me. My budget extends to several years ahead. I know things may change but, I like to be able to plan and project big expenses of the mid-and long-term. By looking at my projection, I can calculate when I would like to call it quits and fully retire without having to work ever again. There are still a few years for that:)

If you have a budget; is it monthly, yearly or longer term?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My budget when I was a kid

For some reason, even when I was really little I liked to count my money, separate it into categories as to what I would like to do with each little sum.

Both my grandparents were very generous and for the two religious holidays we celebrate, they both gave me the highest valued banknote in circulation. Imagine being 7-8 and receiving USD 100 each from your grandmoms for Easter. Other relations would also give smaller amounts and after the holiday, I would feel filthy rich! Lol!

My mom still laughs at  the "pleasure" category my budget had. Well, I still have that category with the name of "Misc. and Fun"

I do not quiet remember my exact budget categories but mom remembers it went like this:

Books (I was an avid reader and although mom bought me a book every week, it would never be enough. If the book was "thin", I would beg her to buy two and usually succeeded at that)

Clothes and accessories (Although mom bought me everything, every once in a while I wanted to buy myself something that I chose myself such as fancy socks, hair accessories or something small like that)

School Supplies (Again, my folks bought what I needed but, I bought things I wanted.) I think choosing something on my own and paying for it from my pocket used to make me feel very grown up.

Pleasure (could be used for anything from buying treats for myself or treating friends to ice cream to buying story books or little toys for my baby sister)

Gifts (I would set aside money to buy gifts for Mother's and Father's Days and birthdays)

Savings (Even then, I was a saver)

I disliked sharing how much money I had even with my parents. I always thought it was a private matter and I still do believe that. So, I am amazed at the people who open their finances to others in their blogs. It surely makes their stories more believable and honest but, telling the world how much money or debt I had? Forget it! Not my thing. Only my sister has a general idea about how much I have.

I will talk about how I handle my budget as an adult later. Do you have a budget? Have you had budgets as a kid?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Married Life Finances Mom and Dad Style

Since I have always been on my own, I have made all my financial decisions myself. How is it with married people? Is it "our" money or is it "your money and my money separately"?

A post over at One Family One Income gave me the idea to talk about how my mom and dad handled their finances before the days of personal computers, Internet banking and automated payments.

In my country personal checks were never a thing; that is probably why it was so easy to get used to automated payments and internet banking once they became available. Even credit cards date back to very late 80s.

So, how did my folks handle the finances?

Both my parents were paid on a monthly basis as is the custom in this country. My father used letter sized engineering papers (square printed) as his "spreadsheet". Each payment and due date would be marked on it. They would bring in their salaries in cash, set aside the necessary amounts for each bill first. The remaining amount would be set aside for groceries and clothes shopping and etc. Since I was going to a private school, there was not much left to be saved but mom would always manage to save some money for the rainy days or surprise vacations. They would each take some pocket money.

Since there were no personal checks, all bills had to be paid in person usually having to stand in line. Thankfully, there weren't so many bills in the past.

We would not have much money for long vacations but, my dad's workplace had a couple of places ran sort of like a primitive resort at a low cost by the seaside and we used to go to one of those places where my folks later bought a summer apartment when my dad retired. We were always sent to my grandparents on my mom's side each summer. They had a house and a nice garden so, it was always a pleasure. Besides, my grandma on my mom's side was my favorite person in the whole wild world.

The spreadsheet for the particular month and all the money left over from the bills would be kept in a tea tin. It was a purple tin may be Ridgways or Twinings, I am not so sure:) Small savings or may be a small Emergency Fund would go into a cigarillo box just to keep it separate.

They worked for Government Agencies so, their pay was not great but, very stable. We lived in a company apartment my dad's workplace provided at a very small cost. It was less than a quarter of a regular rent. He used to walk to work because our apartment was in a campus where he worked. Mom and I and later, my sister had to take a bus into the "city" to get to work and school.

They have sacrificed a lot putting us through a private school just because they believed in a decent education. Luckily we never were in the private school simultaneously. I graduated, my folks took a nice vacation as a late honeymoon and the following year my sis started school.

As soon as I started working and earning money,  I started to contribute to our household income too. because, I was living at home, my sister was going to the same private school I had attended and my folks were making payments for an apartment for their retirement.

Looking back, we were really lucky to have such great parents. So, rest in peace Dad and long live Mom!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stir Fried Veggies

Yesterday morning I made a big batch of stir fried vegetables. Onions, bell peppers, garlic, leftover celery, Brussel sprouts and a small thing of broccoli. Just what I had on hand.

I like it as it is or served with some garlic yogurt on top of it. Sometimes I take a cup of it and chop it into smaller pieces and add two eggs on it to make some sort of a veggie omelette or a frittata.

Sometimes I prepare some pasta and mix it with it. Or add stir fried chicken.

I never make the same mixture. It all depends on what is fresh at the grocery store at a good price. Stir fried veggies are such a simple yet versatile thing to have.

This week I am planning to eat more veggies. I am also eating a lot of fish lately because the hunting season will be over in a couple of weeks. Fresh fish is the best.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Cleaning Day- I

Yesterday, I got rid of all the clutter in the living room, changed my handbag and cleaned out all sorts of unnecessary papers, cleared the kitchen counters and basically broke my back doing all this.

I have decided to do the Grand Spring Cleaning Event where I wash and re-hang all the curtains, get rid of the clutter in cupboards, bathroom and etc. Therefore, I asked the cleaning lady to come next week as well.

Today, she basically attacked the dust which had been accumulating for weeks now. Since it is going to rain I asked her not the wash the windows from the outside. Doing everything in a day is not possible.

The kitchen counters were a mess and it really is sad because, that custom kitchen had cost me two arms and two legs. As soon as the cleaning lady came in and started in my bedroom, I cut up my veggies and stir-fried them for Monday and Tuesday meals. Then, I started the dish washer. When she cleans the kitchen there will be nothing out of place.

I am actually proud of myself because, I am usually very lazy as far as housework is concerned.

I know that there are still tons of stuff that I need to get rid of. In the past I used to change jobs frequently and sometimes that meant moving. So, with each move, I used to get rid of unnecessary stuff every 2-3 years. Now that I have been living in my primary residence mostly since 2004, clutter is taking over. There has been a couple of years I worked in Ankara but I used to come home every month so, I had never really moved. These days, I am staying at the studio during the week but always coming home for the weekend.

I must make a To Do List. I also want the cleaning lady come every two weeks. It is not that big a cost (here in this country) and since I am especially allergic to home dust, I think I should spend the money. Besides the poor girl needs to work especially hard when I do not call her on a regular basis.

I keep noticing this and that to be fixed around my home. For instance, I need a new toilet seat cover which I will hopefully buy today.

Also the floors desperately need to be changed but I think I may postpone that business till next year when I will need to have my walls painted. I will try not to stare at the floors:)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trying different things for breakfast

In Turkey, a standart breakfast would almost consist of white cheese (similar to feta but not quiet so sharp), black and green olives, eggs, some variety of mostly homemade jam, honey, butter, toasted or fresh bread and tea, brewed the way we like it.

On the weekends it could be much richer with additional varieties of cheese, some pastries, may be crepes, Turkish sausages and lunch meat type of stuff. Especially, if you go out to eat, they usually stuff you. Dried fruit, egg dishes, walnuts and such are served also.

To give you an idea, a sunday brunch would look typically like this:

Of course, we do not have such rich food every day. My daily breakfast is a cheese sandwich made in a sandwich maker, 4-5 olives and tea. May be some cucumbers and tomatoes.

So, I have decided to try different things lately. For instance today, I had two hard boiled eggs and an avocado.

I also like oatmeal, a habit I picked up living in the US. A typical Turk would not like it.

Tomorrow is going to be a real treat. I had brought Organic Grade A Maple Syrup from my last visit to the US. So, I will be making pancakes and top them with Maple Syrup.

It is possible to find Maple Syrup here but they are usually grade B and extremely expensive. So, whenever I travel to the US, I take two cylindrical detergent containers with me and put the maple syrup in them tucked in safely with lots of plastic bags. Never had a leakage.

I also happen to like all sorts Peanut Butter Sandwiches, again a habit picked up in the US.

Do you have different breakfast habits? What do you like to have for breakfast?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Losing Sleep over nothing...

Last night I slept a total of one and a half hours. That's what my wrist band tells me.

Why? I had talked about this person at work being very childish and irresponsible right? Well, at about 9 p.m. she called in a frenzy. She talked about a mishap at work and blew it out of proportion such that I was totally upset about the unprofessional manner one of our technical people handling a Customer request. I was led to believe that we f.cked up big time and that both our partner and our Customer are extremely upset.

Although, I did not think about this consciously, my brain kept me from a good night's sleep. I had a terrible night. Tried reading and it didn't work. Tried listening to an audio book to put me to sleep and nope, that didn't work either.

So, I came to work in a not-so-great mood.

We were supposed to address the issue the first thing in the morning and I started waiting for the promised conference call. A half hour passed and I found out that yesterday's caller was talking on the phone to the Team Lead and the person who was supposedly the cause of the problem was not there. I normally do not get cross with people but this time I did. I told them to get their act together and tell me starting from the beginning what the issue was and what kind of an action the Customer was expecting. They were a bit surprised and "heart-broken" because I was cross. Anyway, at the end of a half hour of discussions, I found out that the situation was not so bad after all.

I drafted a heart-felt apology along with a new method to comply with requests from the Customer side so that, this type of a problem would not happen again.

Why did I have to write it? For some reason a lot of educated people have trouble expressing themselves in their native language. It is such a shame that they were able to graduate primary school let alone High School or College.

Sorry for the rant but I just had to let it out!

I am hoping to catch up on my sleep over the weekend.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clutter keeps me from being frugal!

I am the kind of person who would not move a finger if I do not feel like it and I usually do not feel like it at all. Well, may be "usually" is an understatement, I should say "most of the time". I just hate any type of housework. My mom is just the opposite and she is a neat-freak. Oh, how I wish she were here.

I have asked the cleaning lady to come on Sunday. I will do my best to get rid of the clutter on Saturday so, my apartment can be thoroughly cleaned.

I need to sort through my clothes and shoes to give away what I no longer wear.

I also need to clean the bathroom cabinets and put them in order.

When there is clutter, I do not see certain items in the cupboards and keep buying them. That is not frugal!

There are so many bottles of God-knows-what and I have no idea why I keep them. Also, I need to see how much and what kind of detergent I have on hand. I stupidly go buy stuff that I have and forget buying what is necessary. Dumb!

Wish me luck so that I will feel like doing what is necessary over the weekend...

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vacation Plans

Ever since I had learnt that a big company was planning to buy us out, I had switched to a super saver mode and decided not to make vacation plans.

Now I know, that is not going to happen, therefore, I can start to make some vacation plans. I will still keep my budget modest.

I will be taking three weeks off. A week off late April, early May with mom, sis and BIL. We will go to Chios for three days and then stay in Izmir until the weekend. That will be my vacation with mom this year.

Later in the year, I will be going to the US for two weeks. I have already bought my ticket from Istanbul to New York at USD 470.-. That is a very good price.

I also booked a ticket from NY to Charleston, SC at USD 204.- Last time I drove and ate away too much time. Not doing it this time. Besides, it is less expensive.

Who am going to visit? Well, I have been friends with these amazing people since early 90s. The couple who live upstate NY used to be co-workers at a Turkish-American JV I used to work for. My friend living in SC now used to live in CT and she was also a co-worker at the same place. Over the years, her husband became a friend too and we have kept in touch in all these years despite the fact that I moved back to Turkey in 1992. Now that we have Whatsapp and Facebook, we communicate regularly. In the past we used to write long e-mails but they were not so frequent.

The couple visited Turkey once in all these years and the others never made it here. It is a bummer but it is life... Work, kids, health issues prevented them.

Whenever I get a chance, I like to go visit them. I am going to be 50 this year so, I do not know for how long I will be able to keep this up financially and healthwise.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

We are not being sold after all...

My boss told me that the big company who was so enthusiastic about buying us out has decided not to make an offer.

To be honest, I am glad. I know that there is the possibility of someone else making an offer in the future but it was just too soon for me.

Now that the gray cloud is lifted, I feel motivated once again. Also, I can start to make vacation plans. Yay!

My boss will be spending the summer away from Istanbul as he did during the last two summers. After that, he will most likely be relocating his family abroad.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sick as a dog...

It started with a blood pressure attack. Normally my blood pressure is under control but sometimes, for 24-48 hours, it suddenly rises and makes my head ache very much. As I was trying hard to control the blood pressure, my temperature rose and I got quiet sick. Used two personel days and bridged it with the weekend. Went to work on Monday only to feel worse and saw a doctor who thinks it's viral. She gave me some medicine to get rid of the symptoms but told me that, other than bed rest, she could not offer me more. So, I rested for another couple of days and got back to work today. I could stay in bed though.

I still feel pretty sluggish.

I had a very frugal week due to my sickness. I was hoping to go out with friends and possibly do some shopping over the weekend. None of that happened. I have a feeling that, this weekend will also be a frugal one.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

No I am not spending another penny on real estate

The other day my sister called and said they found a real nice apartment right behind their apartment complex in Ankara and that the layout was great and so was the workmanship. Then she asked me how much would I be willing to shell out if they decided to buy it.

I considered it for a moment and told her that now that I am paying off the debt in place of another family member just to keep one apartment and one house in the family, I did not have money to spare especially given that my job is also on shaky ground. I told her I could sell the apartment in Ankara and give her that money.

Then it struck me that; I have no intention to go live in Ankara for the foreseeable future. My sister and brother in law already have a 4 bedroom apartment that they keep empty in Ankara and they are now living in Izmir due to their work situation without knowing if and when they will be able to return to Ankara. My mom is living in her own apartment and when we had offered her to move to my sister's apartment, she had declined. The same offer was made to her father-in-law who has also declined.

So, can anyone tell me why we need to buy this apartment?

I told my sister that there will always be apartments for sale in that new complex in the future. Why would we buy it now? To keep it empty or just to rent out?

She agreed with me. I told her to look for something in Izmir, where they live now so that, they can get rid of paying rent. That makes much more sense. However, I know that the prices in Izmir are very inflated. Therefore, it is difficult to do that.

Until the end of 2019, I am not open to any ideas to buy real estate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Costs of Not Paying Attention

I am the kind of person who believes that everyone must manage every aspect of their lives. Am I good at it? No. I do not pay enough attention to my weight for instance.

However I do pay attention to my bills, as to when they are due, whether there are charges that I do not recognize on my credit card, the tax calendar, my car, the tires and fluids and etc.

Yesterday a friend of mine called and she told me she had found out several charges on her credit card statements that she did not recognize and that this had been going on for a while.

This has happened to me only once. The crooks charge your card with a small amount pretending that they are one of the 3 large telecom companies. If it goes unnoticed, it becomes an automated charge on your credit card.

I check my credit card transactions almost daily because the earlier you challenge a charge, the easier it is to get rid of it. It has happened to me once but I immediately recognized it since I do not do business with that particular operator. Even if I did, I would have still recognized it since I use one bank to make automated payments for those types of expenses. I do not use my credit card.

I asked her whether she has a system to follow up on payments, upcoming expenses, savings etc. She said she did not. She asked me whether she could use my system. She is very welcome to use it but over time I have added several formulas, graphs and etc to it so she has to know how those work.

I told her that once I get back from my travel over the weekend, I would sit down and help her with my chart so that she can use it. The key word is to "use" here. Unless you put in every single bill on it, you can never be sure of what is happening. I do not track my monthly grocery expenses. I just have a lump sum amount that would take care of groceries, eating out and non-food items. It is a set amount and I take great care not to exceed it. If I have money left over for that category, it goes to savings at the end of a particular month.

I hope my friend can deal with those charges and get them lifted.