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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why I do not like February...

Last time I wrote why I loved February but, I also dislike this month. 


Because, I lost my dad on February 20th in 1994.

It never gets any easier... I miss him very very much.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why I love February... (No, not because of V Day)

We are paid monthly here in this country. Retired people get paid every quarter unless they opt to be paid their retirement pensions on a monthly basis. Mom likes to get paid quarterly. She is used to budgeting that way and saves quiet a bit of money each quarter.

I love February because we get paid in 28 days :)

My salary is paid on the last day of the month, my retirement pension is paid on the 24th and my tenant pays the rent on the 16th of every month.

The large portion of my payments are due at the beginning of each month. Small expenses are scattered throughout the month. I diligently keep a budget and know exactly how much money should sit in my checking account for automated payments. Missing a payment because of sloppy tracking is a no, no in my book. After all, this is not rocket science.

My largest income comes in on the last day of the month so, this makes it very easy for me to set aside what has to be paid out before the rent money and pension comes in. I also set aside money for expenses and the rest goes into savings directly.

At the end of the month, right before I get paid my salary, I transfer the remaining balance in my checking account into savings and calculate my progress.

Every month, I look at my numbers and enjoy seeing a steady upward trend in my savings.

If I find myself out of the door when the company is sold, I will not be able to enjoy this any longer. So, I am trying to make the best of it while I can.

I spoke to my boss this morning and he told me that he is now expecting the big company to give him an offer for ours. Yikes! This is too soon! I hope, the negotiations last at least until June. The big company has to go through some legal hoops since their stocks are traded both in Turkey and abroad. I just hope, that takes a looong time.

After that, I will try to hold onto my job as long as I can. There will be a transition period, I am sure. The excitement of not knowing what is going to happen is actually very stressful and I just realized that, this is affecting my sleep very much.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And the expense saga continued...

I had a Sales Meeting this morning with the person mentioned in yesterday's post. All went well until she asked me for the gazillionth time to reconsider the Expense Report. 

I calmly said that this issue was over. She kept pressing on and I tried my very best to keep my cool. At one point, she asked me if I heard something called empathy. 

I then lost it folks... I told her that I wanted to end the conversation right then and there and did not want to just hang up on her. I told her I no longer wanted to continue the conversation and that I lacked empathy and if she is so persistent, I would be more than happy to wire her the said amount of money out of my very own pocket so that she can shut up. Or else, she can take the issue up to our boss. 

She said she would not think of going to the boss. Yeah! Right! As if she hasn't already done that. What a liar! Just yesterday, she had complained about me and the boss put his foot down and told her that what she wanted was not just to others and rules were rules. Yet, she is asking again even after the boss said "no!".

What an idiot! What a liar!

My boss told me that I am most welcome to tell her that if another time she makes such a big deal of something very clear cut and well written down and has that tone with me, she might suffer other consequences she may not be thinking of now. 

I am saving that conversation for a face-to-face meeting.

Monday, February 13, 2017

First time in my life...

I have mentioned an employee who is my age and who has trouble acting like an adult before and the saga continues.

I check and approve all Expense Reports and we have a very solid procedure that details what are considered expenses, what are the limits and etc.

I never have any problems with anyone but with this person. She has exceeded her limit for entertaining customers by about 25% of what is allowable last month. So, I have deducted that amount from the Expense Form and sent it to Accounting.

She has written me several loooong e-mails as to why she did not know the procedure, why the limits are still the same and why, why, why.... All nonsense! I just cannot understand why she has trouble accepting her fault and shut up and move on. She wants me to let go of her mistake. How is that fair to others? How is that fair to my boss?

On top of that, due to a sales goal achievement, a partner has offered to take one person on a weekend trip to a neighboring country. I had offered the trip to another sales person who actually achieved the sales quota but he declined. So, I had offered her the trip and she enthusiastically accepted. Today, I realized that she thought the company would pay the extra expenses. This is a little vacation. It is not like, I am making her go on a mission. How come she can think that, she can expense her extras to the company? I have never seen anyone like her before.

Today she wrote one looooong e-mail to my boss complaining about me. This is a first in 28 years of my career. No one has ever complained about me before. Not that I care. It is just bizarre, that is all.

She also called our assistant and cried (literally cried, folks) on the phone telling her that I was not being fair to her.

My boss, the owner of the company, being fully aware of the situation, sent her a firm message telling her what is what.

I feel like going to Ankara, to the office, grabbing a fistful of money from my purse and throwing it at her! I am so furious! What an idiot!

My boss and I have written those procedures together and for this very reason. I am enforcing these procedures because it is my job and my responsibility to him. He never checks anything after I sign it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Books and Audio Books

I love reading and though I feel like I do not read as much as I used to, I think I compensate that by reading blogs and articles on the Internet.

I also like to listen to Audio Books. They are especially great to put me to sleep.

However an innocent hobby such as reading can be pricey and being the frugal person that I am, I have decided to turn to the Classics which are available for free. I started with the usual good stuff like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Sherlock Holmes, Emma etc.

Lately, I have come across a title called "At the Villa Rose" by A. E. W. Mason. I was not familiar with the author or his works but, the book was surprisingly good. It's genre was Mystery and a great mystery it was. There are other works available by him and I think, I will listen to them too.

I use Kindle for Android, Oodle Books and Librivox for my new hobby

Thursday, February 2, 2017

It's the little things and a non-inflated life style

I have been a frugal person most of my life. There was a period, I was not concerned about money but, I had a rude awakening and figured it out the hard way and went back to my frugal ways.

It is always nice to put aside big chunks of money from a savings perspective if you can. However, many people do not realize the importance of little things. For instance, I have just changed my wi-fi and cable provider. I technically do not need a cable provider but when mom visits, her shows are important and I feel compelled to provide her what she needs. Right before the end of last year, I went through my routine bills and tried to find good year end campaigns to lure customers into changing providers. I found a good deal and signed up for it. Now, I am paying 30% less than what I was paying for wi-fi and cable separately. Also, I am getting one invoice for both things. Works for me!

Last year I had also changed the cell phone company for me and mom. It was based on political reasons but I was able to get better pricing so, it was a double-win. I cut ff my relationship with a provider I dislike and lowered my bills. Mom uses a phone in my name and she is on the cheapest possible plan. That is still more than she needs.

I like the advice the Ultimate Cheapskate gives. He basically tells you, when you are in your thirties and when you have reached a sufficient income level, stay there. Even if you make more money, keep your budget the same and bank the extra. I think, this is very sound advice.

During the last two years, I had been earning real well when compared to the past. I have not let my spending get out out of control, despite the extra money. I splurged once with my kitchen renovation and may have surprised my family members with some gifts that they did not expect. That is all.

So, when I looked at my Net Worth and Savings graph for the last 10 years, I have happily noticed that, I have bought an apartment and now own it free and clear, bought another apartment and still paying the mortgage on it and did two major renovations in my primary residence within the last ten years. The best thing is; I have more than quadrupled my savings during the last two years. I will probably be able to pull this income may be for another 6 months-2 years. So, I am in a super-saver mode now. Still, I have room for small indulgences in my monthly budget like a nice dinner out with friends, couple of  bottles of wine etc. I can save over 50% of my current income. However, this has happened to me just recently. Before 2015, I was never able bring in this much income and save at such a rate. So, while it lasts, I am determined to be smart about it.

Our company is at the verge of being sold. It may or may not happen. If it does get sold, I have a feeling that, the new owner which is a big company may let me go in a fairly short time. My boss thinks otherwise. So, if I last until the end of this year, that is really good. If I can last another year, that will be wonderful. However, I would need to go back to consulting for a few years more since, I am paying a family member's debts to keep an apartment and a house in the family. I am not asking for any help at the moment from mom or sis but I know, they are ready to jump in if I lose my job.

The ideal scenario for me would be to be able to work at my current job until the end of 2019. If not, I will probably have to work until 2023 doing consultancy. It is an irregular income but still, instead of eating away my savings, that is something.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hibernate or not to hibernate...

I have been feeling sluggish lately. It must be the winter blues. The weather has been overcast, dreary for a very long time. 

I feel like I would like to crawl into a cave and snuggle with a bear to hibernate. 

This weekend, I am planning to dye my hair, do my nails and just try to be active all through the weekend. If I stay in bed thinking that I need to rest a lot, I never get that rest and feel even worse on Monday.

I have also promised myself to be out and about no matter what the weather will be like, at least for a whole hour. A walk by the seaside seems most appealing.

So, I will hopefully keep my blood pumping and shake this feeling over the weekend.

There are a lot of things at home to sort out and re-arrange. I am hoping to be able to do at least some of those things. 

What do you do to shake of the winter blues?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Can we act like adults please?

I don't know how many times I want to say this to one of the sales people at our company. She is my age, 50 years old.

Our boss sends all the sales people their goals for the year and expects them to achieve their goals. They get serious amounts of bonuses. In addition to their sales goals, there are a couple of apps that they must use. If they do not, they are fined by a small amount deducted from their bonuses.

So, this year, she did really well and earned a bonus of say USD 30,000 (that is not the real number). However, since she did not use one of the apps required, USD 750 was deducted from the above number. A normal adult would say "it was my fault, now I have to make sure I pay attention to these things" right? No. She has sent whiny e-mails to our boss and he put his foot down. He forwarded those messages to me saying that he had no intention to budge.

I went up to him and asked if he had conveyed his message openly. He showed me the document he has sent her at the beginning of the last year and even forwarded me that message.

So, today I had a discussion with her and I scolded a 50 year old woman that she was acting in a childish manner and she keeps doing this even when she knows that our boss loathes this type of behavior.

Whenever there is an issue that she is not right, instead of owning the failure, she whines and sometimes even cries. I just cannot comprehend why she is like this.

She keeps blaming other people, claims she did not know such and such thing, did not understand it that way, etc. Truly a baby! How do you handle such people?


Monday, January 16, 2017

January 15

If my father were alive, yesterday would have marked his 77th birthday. However, he passed when he was only 54. There isn't one single day, I haven't thought of him since his passing.

He was a quick witted person and was very fond of joking. He was a very loving father but he was excessively protective and he was a worrier. Growing up, I had found those traits difficult to deal with. I usually think, that is why he passed at such a young age. He was always terribly afraid that, he would not be able to cope with his mother's passing. My grandma outlived him by 7 years. He was afraid that his brother would kill himself because of alcoholism. He did and everybody dealt with it including my grandma who outlived my uncle by 3 years. 

He died on February 20th. So, the time between his birthday and his death day is especially tough on me. Oh, and Father's Day is the worst. 

I am turning 50 this year and as I approach the age he died, I tend to stop and reflect back on things more often. 

My heart is heavy these days...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And now... Flood!

What happens when 50 inches of snow falls and starts to melt?

I park my car in the garage at the second basement level. Today, as I got off the elevator, I was startled with the noise of water. I then realized that, the water found it's way on several locations into the garage and almost flooded the basement. The amount of water pouring down is so much that they will need to pump it out AGAIN!

I do not understand why they do not get this fixed properly. Tonight, I am definitely leaving the car outside. Until the basement dries, I am not leaving my car down there.

It is terrible for the building's foundation. Good thing that I am only a renter here. Otherwise, I would be on their case to get this thing fixed properly.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snowed In!

This year all the snow that usually goes to North America must have come to Turkey instead. I have not seen anything like this since 1996 when I was back in the US. It started snowing on Friday at 4.p.m and still going strong. There may have been only a few hours that it had stopped. It is quiet a blizzard right now.

We could not go to work today and most likely we will keep home tomorrow too. Thankfully, everyone can work from home in what we do so, we are not behind on our customer obligations.

I went out briefly to get some groceries. It was such a chore! There is 40-50 inches of snow out there. Thankfully, I am back at home. They say it is going to get worse in a few hours. ,

May God protect the poor and homeless and all the animals out.

Friday, January 6, 2017

To plan or not to plan? That is the question...

I have a good job which pays very well and I am happy about it in general. I had made some long term financial plans and was very happy how things were going. However....

My boss lately told me that a big company is interested in buying us out. Since he intends to relocate abroad, he is happy that such an opportunity presented itself.

Well, my plans need to change now. First of all, I have some debt burden taken over from a family member and that has to be paid out on a monthly basis. Second, I had been planning to save a ton of money over the course of 3-5 years. Third, I used to pay a lump sum amount to my personal retirement fund to take the advantage of 25% Government Match but, I do not want to be cash-short so, I decided to postpone that large payment which will eventually delay the Government Match.

Bummer! Should I forgo planning altogether and float the waves? If plans are not gonna work why bother planning?

Obviously, I decided to revise my plans instead of panicking. When I heard the news, I charted out a terrible scenario where I would keep my current job for the first three months of this year and would not be able to find a new job and just exist on my retirement and rental income.

I ran the numbers and saw that, I can still meet my obligations even in that terrible scenario with very small savings to be left over. This made me feel a bit better about the situation because, this is the most unlikely scenario.

My boss thinks the deal will take at least 2 quarters and that the buyer will need me badly. Let's hope so, but, I will not count on that.

Now, I have switched to a super saver mode. Other than items of absolute necessity, and some simple entertainment, I will not be spending money.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Back to Reality...

There has been a terrorist attack to the one of the most prominent Night Clubs in Istanbul during the first hour of 2017. It was an ISIS terrorist using an automatic assault weapon. 40 people died, more than 60 wounded.

World is going to get even crazier. I accept this fact now. So sad...