May Bills and Dreams

Via email, an old college classmate asked me what my dreams were. I couldn't come up with any. Is it possible I've already accomplished the things I wanted? It's what I've been saying for awhile and part of the catalyst for my death date.  At 36, dreams seem different from goals. Goals seem actionable, and plausible, and more within you control. There's a set path with clearly marked criteria, like getting into college.  For the most part I've hit my educational and professional goals - i.e. getting into college; graduating; and finding gainful employment.  So, big picture goals are met. Finer details like what I thought the experience would be or feel like or what my exact job title would be were refined later on as life happened.

As for dreams,  they seem the stuff of children or unfulfilled individuals. I don't know that I'm looking for anymore than I already have. Dreams, to me, seem to have an element of wishful thinking or luck, something beyond your control. I don't have those. Not anymore, anyway.

I do have bills. But apparently for the month of May, not that many. I was so surprised because for the last month or so, I seem to be moving around from this place or that (with my bank bonus churning).

Take a peek.

The are my recurring bills for the month. That's a grand total of: $579.89. That's pretty good!

Because of COVID-19 my student loan payments are on hold for a few months, and I don't have my first utility bill yet. I don't know what it'll be since I moved from a studio to a 2bdrm townhouse. I can tell you, at my studio, I averaged $35/mon.  Estimates from others are saying maybe $100-$200/mon.  We shall see.

For daily expenses like food and gas, I give myself a $400/mon allowance on a prepaid card well now a 1% cashback debit card with no overdraft protection.

How's your May looking in terms of bills?

What is making me anxious right now, Tuesday evening edition?

I don't know where the day went.
Around 4pm, I found myself with 4 calls to finish wrapping. Then my project lead sent me a peer review to complete by the end of the day. Errr... say what now? 

Today we got an email that our 401k won't be matched for May and June. Wow, talk about trickle down effect. It was just surprising. Funny thing, this whole time I had just rounded our match to 3% because of the way it's structured, but it's actually 4.5%. That's good I guess.

Phone screen
Had phone screen for fake job application. It was very brief, like 15 minutes or less. I think some of the questions were typical screening questions disguised as conversational. For example, instead of the typical tell me about yourself or where do you see yourself in five years, he said something like sometimes managers share resumes (which got my blood going thinking I'd been found out), so is this the job you're looking for or do you have other interests. If it was a trick question, I didn't fall for it completely, but I did get flustered.  After 100 of these, you think you know what to expect, and then this happens.

I already mentioned the Varo bank bonus posting early this morning! That was nice.

But where did my day go?!

Free money
I applied for 3 more credit cards and was only instantly approved for one. I can do without the unknowns and the rejection, so I think I'll stick to churning bank bonuses for now.  Then I decided to follow up with Chase, and they want me to send in some ID verification. My address is all messed up because I moved recently and the property is new construction and for some reason whatever maps/address verification tool they use doesn't recognize my street.

Less things to churn means less clicking around and don't have to worry so much about missing a "good deal."

They sent me an email. I deleted it from one account since all my emails get forwarded to one email address. And quickly archived it in the original inbox. I am scheduling it for 6 weeks from now to follow-up. Hopefully I'll be in a better state.

Not sure why no one is contacting me in on Facebook. One of the people is my cousin, but I don't want to make a big deal out of this search for friends. And I'm kind of losing interest.

Integrity and Faith
The Daily Hope message for today talked about using integrity and God's Word to make decisions. I wish I had done more of that when my aunt got sick. It was basically just like do the right thing even when no one else is. I was just in such a cloudy place. I didn't believe God. I didn't like the way my aunt's life turned out so I just sidelined Him.

I feel okay.
Otherwise I feel okay. Someone expressed hope that I was enjoying my new house. Overall, I am. I'm afraid this feeling will fade, but having this house has surprisingly helped to anchor me. It's not where I wanted to be many times over, but it's where I am now. And I'm not that anxious to leave. It's just one less mental burden- not having to wonder where I'm going to live. Living here provides me that relief I would feel everytime I finally realized I had nowhere else to go and would renew my lease. Except I (conceivably) won't have to feel those feelings that happen before the relief again.

Free $75 and what is making me anxious today

Well I jumped out of bed to blog about what was making me anxious today:

  • 10a phone interview for fake app with Big Pharma
  • Where is the Apr check from Wespath?
  • Where is the $10k from Wespath?
  • Why won't anyone respond to my Facebook messages?
  • Is my HSA going to distribute that money after all? 
  • Am I going to call the county to put up a street sign?
  • What to do about Chase not accepting my address and my card keeps getting denied and I'm not able to get my rewards?

But then when I opened my inbox, I saw I got the free $75 from Varo Bank after meeting one of their direct deposit requirements! Woot! Now I'm in a better mood. I just liked it because one it's my second bank bonus this year and it was really easy because the website I use that lists all the easy bank bonuses currently in circulation showed me how to do it easily! Yay, I'm totes in a better mood.

Oh and so that sparks other good thoughts. My curtains in the bedroom are doing the trick. Last night, I set up a tan office chair and a red ribbon hanging from the bathroom doorjamb to see what you could see through the curtains at night with all the lights turned on. Again, you could see the actual light fixture; you could tell that the room was lit; I couldn't see the tan office chair or my bed or the delineations between rooms; at a certain angle from the neighbors yard, I could make out the red ribbon.  It was a little concerning, but I think it'll be okay. It's not the clear view I once saw.  I just have to make up my mind not to be scared. I put up deterrents without sacrificing too much natural light. That's enough for now. 

In other news, I tried to buy a robotvac. It took me most of yesterday and the clicking around I'd done the day before that, but I decided on the Eufy 11s (actually the 15) for $150 from Best Buy. Then my credit card still isn't working. So that put a halt in plans. 

I'm applying for a few more today and I really want to try to get the rest of the house set-up, COVID or not. I don't want to be in limbo anymore, and I want to have as few things to do as possible once the restrictions are lifted. 

I broke one of my rules

Last night I couldn't sleep. I had to reset the timer on my audiobook two or three times. And after 2a, I got up and took a shower. I was mostly scared because I haven't changed the sheer curtains in my bedroom yet.  And I've been watching true crime shows on Investigation Discovery. Not a good combo.

What's keeping me up at night?
Facebook! Believe it or not. I am trying to stay focused and not friend everyone I ever knew, but it's hard when I get no replies. First I sent a message to one person. Then after 5 minutes, if no one responds, I search someone new.  So last night, filled with angst, I turned the internet back on on my iPad and reactivated my email to check my Facebook responses. Nada! And I had been doing so well keeping internet and email out of the bedroom.

 I am giving myself a week and then I'm deleting the account. I am really trying to return to my neutral position. But even the lack of response from people I haven't talked to in decades feels like a rejection. I am just too emotionally labile for this. My goal was to reach two old friends that I met in college in 2001, but I couldn't find them with a name search. As I stated, I'm giving myself a week.

Also, I had to respond to an invite for a quick chat from a recruiter for my fake job app. I am trying to mentally prep myself not to take the (coming) rejection too personally, so I'm doing things a little out of character to emotionally distance myself. For example, my responses have been one-liners so far instead of the usual formal email responses.

Home making.
I forgot I was thinking of getting a robot vac. And now that I've upped the ante to getting 4 credit card (bonuses), I think I might just get one...or two (robot vacs). Then I got lost in a rabbit hole of reviews. Do I get a cheap one? The name brand Roomba? Or one that rates highly in the reviews but I've never heard of? Anybody have a robot vac they can personally recommend?

Sunday, Cake Day

Had a small meltdown yesterday and decided to just archive everything in my inbox. Then today (Sunday), I tried to find it all and get in the right place. Unfortunately for me, there were some older emails I was keeping in my inbox as reminders of things I needed to do. I don't remember what they were.

Another example of when unchecked emotions ruin lives. Hyperbole.

Not much to report today.  Lots of cake lately because I finally have an oven!!

Some adventures in homemaking.
After trying out some sheer curtains downstairs when I first moved in, I got some for upstairs because I liked them so much. Then one night after 8pm, I made a fast food run, and discovered something. Turns out science still applies. During the day, the sheer curtains are fine and provide an adequate amount of privacy. However, at night, if the lights are on inside, they provide a clear view into my apartment. Whoops, I have these same curtains hanging in the bedroom.

So Saturday, I spent over an hour in the aisle at Walmart trying to find a solution. I saw sheer and I saw "blackout" curtains. I guess this was an unrecognized "pro" of blinds. The slits in blinds lets light in but you can't see through plastic at night. In my short-sightedness, I've been avoiding putting up blinds. At this point, it's not even a cost issue.  I decided on curtains and am going to see it through.

Frozen with indecision, I walked out with curtains marked as "heavy" material and blackout curtains as a default. Luckily, the heavy curtains seemed to be a good solution. I tested it at night and you could see the light fixture and know the lights were on downstairs but you couldn't see much else. Naturally, I couldn't test if you could see figures moving, but I think it will do the trick. So now I have 4 extra panels of sheer curtains.  I think I decided I'll double up the sheer curtains and use them in the office where there are currently no window treatments. With two sheer curtains,  the nighttime view from the outside just kind of offers a blurry view of the inside, and since it's not street level, it should be okay.

Friends and Facebook.
I've started incorporating the word peer into conversations to replace the word friend.  The adults I encounter in my current life just don't seem to offer enough for the word friend. Other contenders include acquaintance and colleague.  I refuse to use the word BFF as my 40 year old brother used multiple times in a recent conversation. I think since it's been so long since I had a friend, it just took me by surprise.

Anyway, said brother was contacted by an old friend from high school. Yes, I said friend because when I knew her we were friends. She passed along her number to me and I used Google Voice to message her. I was so excited. It just feels nice to know someone is thinking about you. My immediate thought was maybe my Sainted Aunt was sending me a friend so I won't be so alone. Turns out she has a 5-year old. Just like some people don't like dating individuals with kids, women with kids aren't my first choice for new friends either.

Anyway, in my excitement I tried again to join Facebook. I'd tried a couple times last year but kept getting flagged for identity verification issues. This time, I signed up easily. Then I got overwhelmed with sensory overload and deactivated the account. This morning I logged back on to try to find 2 people I used to know back in 2001 but I couldn't. I think a lot of people use spelling variations these days to mask their identity or I don't know how to use Facebook anymore.

Well, suffice to say the excitement has weaned a bit.

Family Fund.
Part of my meltdown was my grief for the loss of my aunt. Part of it was dealing with Wespath. There is a death benefit payout that is pending...or not. I don't know anymore, but I'm leaving it in last week, and I'm leaving it in April. (Here's hoping for a brighter month of May!). Anyway, I was thinking that with the possible dividends or interest I get for this amount, I might try to give away up to $500/yr to family members as gifts or need-based gifts. My aunt loved to buy gifts for people. That was unequivocally one of her love languages. 

I though it would post Friday, but it didn't. I'm really hoping I don't have to communicate further with Wespath. They make me so mad. I just want to distance myself from all of it and grieve in peace.

Well whenever the payout is, my thoughts are: I want to keep it separate from my other accounts. And I'm sure whether I want to keep it in savings or invest it. I know I don't want to make any rash decisions to lock it away, so I'm half looking for some new bank account savings bonuses. I'm thinking at least let it rest in a high-yield savings account for a little awhile, at least until my next financial update (Jun 2020) or longer.

I guess for as mad as I am for the effort it took Wespath to act, I'm hoping this deposit will be the resolution of this issue.

Job interview update and plans for tonight

Got a late start today because I came in early for a meeting yesterday.

6 hours and no calls (at the Call Center where I work). Three cheers!  You'd think that make me reconsider taking the next 2 days off but alas, no.

I already made up my mind yesterday. So if I get no calls the rest of the evening, that'll make for 5 calls the whole week! I love it! I love this place.

Thought I'd be able to put yesterday behind me, but I woke up with it.

Well, I have my champagne for tomorrow; well technically, it's sparkling wine because they didn't have champagne in my $3 price range. Haha. I know that seems cheap, but I just wanted the little single serve deals they have at the local Food Lion.

Fast forward to 7:30pm. I got a call, so my post was interrupted.

Starting to see a little effect of having a proclaimed Death Date (Nov 8, 2031).

Today during our Team Huddle Meeting, I didn't contribute. Our team lead suggested I do something I don't even remember now; I think run reports or fill in, and I wanted to say, Yeah, of course no problem. But I was in a cantankerous mood and half checked out pending my upcoming days off.

I told myself I'd respond happily after she sent out the meeting minutes, but I didn't.

It's unlike me. I like doing a good job, but maybe I'm being a bit short-sighted.  It just kind of feels like what's the point. I came in 6 months ago guns blazing with all the process improvements I could think of, but it just seems like when I try to engage with the process I end up frustrated.

Job interview update
So, as much as I wanted to believe something different was going to happen on the job hunt front, I haven't heard back from either of the recruiters at Big Pharma. Oh well. No surprises there. I'm sure the continuous rejection is contributing to my mood.

In other news
Tonight was supposed to be Survivor (On Demand) and puppy chow time. But I ate all the puppy chow and Survivor doesn't air until tonight! I'll have to find a new snack and watch it live.

Other than that, I signed up for 2 more bank bonuses - but they won't pay out until November 2020. That's annoying and quite a test of patience! I was just getting anxious so I started clicking around and ended there.

Today is a better day...made better with bacon

Okay, I just slayed one of the big, bad, scary wolves keeping me up at night.

So if you're just tuning in. My sainted aunt passed away. She was a participant in a Wespath plan that had a death benefit (like a life insurance policy).  Due to some not-everyone-is-good-at-their-job, a beneficiary form she had filled out in early 2000s was overlooked. As a result, the death benefit was paid out to my aunt's Estate. That can't be cashed without opening an estate account and first paying creditors - errr, no. A third party made me aware of the overlooked form.

I contacted Wespath way back in February shortly after my sainted aunt passed away. They upset me and would not budge. They paid out the check to the Estate. I politely returned it. A couple months passed. I followed up with them (and contacted a lawyer through one of those legal plans you can get through work), and now they finally agreed to honor the beneficiary form.

The third party that clued me in to the form gave me some percentages that I am now learning included contingent beneficiaries. I didn't know that until now.  So basically, I thought the money was being split about 5 ways and I wanted to make sure the other people were getting their fair share since they lived overseas. It turns out it's only being split two ways (so says untrustworthy Wespath).  Well, I'm still waiting to see the form myself, but if this is the case, then this matter is officially resolved.

I had really wanted to make sure my overseas relatives got something, but since they were never the primary beneficiaries, I have less to fight for. For all intents and purposes of my involvement, this should not keep me up another night. (Fast forward to 7p, and I tried again and failed to get them to release the 2006 form; I don't know why I've decided to die on this hill when I was just happy about this a few hours ago.)

Well there is still a missing check from Apr 2020, but I'm hoping that is just lost in the mail somewhere.

Other than that, one of my fake job application got a hit this morning. It felt so good! I am officially addicted to job applying in so far that it lights up all my reward centers when I get a positive response. It was a hit from the Big Pharma company that's been stringing me along. I know in a couple weeks the fake app is going to cause some more emotional distress, but the game of it all got me excited when I saw the email this morning. I don't know what my course of action is but my feelings have definitely moved from doom-and-gloom to excitement.

But yeah, last night was rough; I was up till 3a lamenting my otherwise perfectly good life.

In other news, I have eaten 2 pounds of bacon over the course of 4 days. That can't be good. Of note, the cheaper bacon was actually tastier.

Hot rolls with hot bacon is like endorphin for the veins.

I placed my first order with a securities broker last night. I've been checking periodically throughout the day to see if anything different happens. I have no idea what happens next. My primary goal is to buy into the mutual fund and set up a recurring investment.

Trying to churn the Varo bank bonus. It's $75 for direct depositing $200. Since I don't have room on my direct deposit until June, I'm looking for alternatives. No data points for me yet.

Also, what is everyone doing with their stimulus checks?? All my personal money movement; setting up house; and these random infusions of free money has gotten me all turned around. I don't feel that motivated to just invest it all right away. I don't know. I'm sure I had a formula at some point when I started my personal finance journey on what to do with influxes of money, but I can't recall at this particular moment.

Paid time off (PTO)
So one of the things getting my panties in a bunch yesterday was trying to figure out whether to take my scheduled paid time off on Thursday and Friday. If it were my old job where we had limited vacation days, I think the decision would likely be to just keep my vacation days.  Since that's been the case at every other job, I'm still stuck in that mentality to conserve vacation days for something really huge. But since at Call Center 2, we have "discretionary" vacation days, it feels like why not? I don't lose anything. The main reason I was thinking about "saving" these 2 vacation days is because on a day like Monday, I had no calls, so it seemed pointless to waste them.  But fast -forward to 7p today (I started this post in the a.m.) after I've already had 5 calls, I'm leaning towards taking the days off.

1 month as a homeowner
Why did I schedule these days off anyway? Well, Thursday, is April 23, so that'll be 1 month since closing!! I just saw the note on my calendar. Hadn't even realized. I'm guessing I thought I would need time to soak it all in and finish any last minute errands, catch my breath, slow down, enjoy...all that. I didn't anticipate the actual calm and ease settling into my new place turned out to be thanks to coronavirus. I've spent most of the last month sheltered-in-place, and it turns out when you don't have to get dressed for work, there's not much to unpack.  Since the bulk of my belongings were clothes, I made the decision to just keep them tucked away in plastic containers.

I mostly just reorganized things I had in boxes - a few boxes of important papers, my college textbooks, papers and diplomas, memorabilia and pictures and notes and things I've written. When I've had them out before, I mostly just unhappily dusted them. So I decided to just leave them stored.

But there you have it. I made it one month as a lifetime-leaser! If I can find something yummy, I might get some champagne when I go deposit this refund from my homeowner's insurance (apparently I paid twice).  #Escrow.

What is making me so sad and anxious?

I thought I had a great weekend and I've been enjoying the random influxes of free money and low call volume at the Call Center where I work.

But this morning I woke up grumpy and anxious and sad. And I'm not quite sure why. I know something is not quite right when I actively engage in my doomsday habits. I haven't brushed my teeth in a couple days; yesterday I refused to draw the curtains; I ate cake after 8p. I have this permanent scowl on my face; I started compulsively searching on Indeed for new jobs (didn't apply to any, but came close).

I have a brand new roof over my head; I have my job (which requires so little of me); I have plenty of food.

What is swirling in my head right now?

  • I haven't been eating that healthily, mostly just what I want = fat and sugar.
  • I might be a bit constipated.
  • Contacting and waiting on HR to update my address with Benefits Administrator.
  • Thinking about contacting HR about my WFH stipend.
  • Filing Amended taxes.
    • Figuring it out.
    • Printing it.
    • Writing a check/money order.
    • Going to the post office to mail it.
    • Waiting to see if it's accepted/rejected.
      • Dealing with it if it's rejected.
  • Figuring out how to withdraw the excess HSA contribution from 2019. 
  • Waiting to hear back from Wespath regarding my aunt's death benefit.
    • Them giving me even more pushback regarding who is actually on the beneficiary list and trying to figure out how to honor aunt's wishes there.
      • Just the impending doom of another fight with them (Wespath). 
    • Do I tell the mother of the deceased beneficiary? I don't feel compelled to really share the money with her or her other kids. I'd rather it go overseas.
  • Had accepted the tacit rejection from the latest Big Pharma interview, then got a check-in that said my candidacy is still pending (i.e. still no job offer). 
    • This recalled old rejections that started out this way.
      • Which I often feel compelled to counter with more applications = vicious cycle.
    • I've been dealing with this same recruiter since January 2020, and with this company since Feb 2019; why can't I cut them loose! 
    • So now I'm back to Anxiety Square One. 
  • Is the friend I was trying to shake off brushing me off?
  • Why has my other aunt not been as responsive lately?
  • Should I still take my 2 days off this Thursday and Friday considering our workload is so low or just tack it on to my October vacation?
    • Am I really going to Spain in October?
    • If I get this Big Pharma Job, that'll be 2 free days off!!
So, naturally I'm going to do nothing.  Probably eat some more fat and sugar; turn a blind eye to pending tasks; and wallow in self-pity. 

Mistakes and Lessons Learned with My HSA

I believe I just finished week 3 in the new house. Yippee. So far, so good! Some weird noises and untidy pet owners as neighbors, so only time will tell there.

I'm still getting into a routine, including a financial routine. With opening new accounts and scheduling payments for new expenses - including what is now my 2nd loan servicer before my first payment is even due- I find myself checking accounts or making financial transactions almost every single day so far. I actually enjoy it a little as they are usually little problems easily solved - like setting up a recurring Billpay.

Earlier this year when I was filing my taxes, a note in Credit Karma Tax alerted me to the fact that you could still contribute to your 2019 HSA in 2020. I originally opened an HSA as a monkey-see, monkey-do. A personal finance blogger I follow did it, so I always thought when I had access to one, I'd do it too. Well, that and the other health insurance plans were so pricey! So I figured I'd take my chance of keeping my money with an HSA.

The first issue I had was a payroll issue. Due to some misinformation and trying to contribute extra payments, I missed contributing on my last paycheck in 2019.

The second issue was trying to use the HSA that I opened in 2019 for a medical expense I incurred in 2017.  That's not allowed.

After learning about the ability to contribute to a 2019 by 2020 Tax Day, I corrected both of the above issues before filing my taxes in February 2020.

Just a couple minutes ago, just clicking around in preemptive readiness of the job offer that has not yet happened but is stringing me along, I discovered your HSA annual contribution max is pro-rated to the months you are actually eligible for the HSA, for the most part. There is a last month rule but that wouldn't apply here since I can't predict the future.

Basically, what this means for me is since I was only eligible for an HSA in October, November, December of 2019, my max HSA contribution is pro-rated. Actually, as I type this, I need to double check. I started with Call Center 2 October 7, so I don't know if I was even eligible for an HSA for October since I started after the 1st of the month.  Whether it's 2 or 3 months, I contributed way more than that after I contributed additional payments in 2020. Not sure why Credit Karma Tax didn't catch that?

Ok I just clicked around, and the the language I read on the IRS web-page, says one of the qualifiers for an HSA requires being covered under a high-deductible health plan on the first day of the month. Since my official start date was Oct 7, 2019, I'm guessing I don't qualify to contribute for Oct 2019, even though according to my employer, our benefits started the date of hire. So to avoid any more mistakes, I'm going to calculate my 2019 max contribution based on November and December 2019 only = 3500 / 12 x 2 = $583. I think that's even less than what I had originally.


So for the first time ever, I believe I am going to have to file an amended tax return! I mean I love a good financial mystery, but gee golly! I really need to read the fine print. This is one reason I'm sometimes hesitant to embark on new financial adventures.

Some good news

So yesterday was a crying day. Part of what triggered me was closing out some unfinished business having to do with my aunt's "estate."

To recap, the plan administrator for her death benefit had made the check out to her "Estate" instead of her designated beneficiaries. After a couple months of back and forth and me finally throwing the weight of legal counsel around, I got an email today saying they were going to reissue the payment to her beneficiaries.

I was happy about the victory, but there are two remaining battles. One, I would like a copy of the beneficiary form. Two, some of my relatives live overseas, so I'm curious to see what the plan administrator are going to do about them. My best guess, from clicking around the internet, is they are going to say those people are unable to be located. Then I imagine they would probably try to issue those funds to the estate, but I would prefer they just at least divvy it up to the remaining beneficiaries so I can get some of the money to my relatives overseas. So I'm a little bit happy but also filled with dread that it's not over yet.

I just have such disdain for dealing with middlemen.

Ugh, in other news I can't shake this friend I've been trying to shake for the last year or so! I'm just so bored and desperate for limited human interaction sometimes that I take what I can get. Right now my latest complaint is our communication styles. She grew up mostly an only child so is used to telling long stories. Maybe I'm jealous? Isn't that the first leap critics make? But to explain something, I have to hear every emotion and action and backstory. Which would be fine, but I feel like when it's my turn to talk, I don't get the same airtime because this family member is calling, or she has to deal with her partner, or her baby.  So part of it is I came from a large family where kids maybe didn't get that much airtime, so I always keep my stories short and to the point. So I feel like when I'm trying to vent or get out a long story and I get cut off, it's doubly annoying!

This just affirms for me why I chose not to pursue friendships with women with partners or children. But as I said, these days I have yearning for more human connection, so everyday I say this is the last time I'm talking to her for awhile, and a couple hours later, we're emailing, or messaging, or Skype calling. It's my own fault.

Which brings me to my next point.
What easy craft-hobby can I start during the  rest of our government shut in? I have my aunt's sewing machine, but I don't actually know how to sew and I don't really need clothes.

But there must be things outside of clothes I can make? I just miss my aunt! She was so fun and full of life!

Made it 4 days without crying

I'd made it four days without crying. Then yesterday was a slow day at the call center (where I work), so I started running some personal errands online.  One of those was fixing a death benefit payout for my aunt. The plan administrator made the check payable to her estate due to my aunt filling out two different forms for her 2 different plans.

I think what my aunt filled out is correct, but the plan administrator is saying they only want to honor the last form she filled out which didn't specify beneficiaries for her death benefit. It was so upsetting that I had put it on the backburner. Yesterday, I decided to follow-up. The first lady I talked to at her former employer's stated she was not getting involved. I spoke to two people at the Plan, and they looked into it and said they'd check back with their compliance department but then ended the call saying compliance had already looked into it and more than likely the 2011 form would apply. Basically, nothing would be resolved.

Knowing the discrimination she faced working for this employer- I mean, even when I call in, they still refer to her as a him - it just frustrates me that even in death, people are still mistreating her.

Then today was more frustration. And I just had a nice cry sesh not too long ago. I mostly just regret that she died alone and I could have been there. I regret not doing better.  It would not have killed me to move to Florida as she would have liked. Or even have her come crash at my studio, or even get a 2 bedroom apartment as one of my relatives suggested. I was so steeped in my sadness and self-comfort that the woman who sacrificed her best years of life and finances to take care of me died traumatically alone in a crappy hospital bed at a dingy hospital.

After seeing how easy it was for one of my cousin's to have a memorial service for her at the retirement home and hearing how my aunt had thrown herself a birthday party in that same meeting hall, why didn't I throw her a 70th birthday party? I KNOW FOR A FACT SHE WOULD HAVE LOVED IT! She loves people, parties, and surprises. But no, I was so caught up in what would bring me comfort and my own sadness and limitations to step out of myself and do something for someone else, for her.

It was like I had an inclination of what to do, what she would like, what the right thing to do was, but I rationalized myself out of doing it.

I can't move to Florida - it's too hot, it's too many bugs, my crazy cousin lives there, too much drama, the rent is more there and I'm trying to FIRE.

I can't take care of her - I mean I'm not a nurse? If she needed anything, she would still have to call 911; we just don't get a long that well; I remember saying you can care about someone but that doesn't mean you should be their caretaker; her needs are too great; I can't be her nurse, companion, housekeeper, and her niece at the same time.

I tried to buy a house here in NC that we could live in together - it was not in my FIRE Budget; I was so focused on the money; I figured she gave everything to me and God never gave her paradise on earth, so why should I risk it, but maybe I was supposed to be her paradise.

I failed at the surprise party twice - the first year my aunts (her sisters) for different reasons couldn't make it; the second year she got sick and it didn't seem like a good idea or I just gave in to other people not wanting to commit to it; it just seems like when the going got tough, I just backed away.

The trips she wanted - she'd say I just want to go somewhere, I'd say where; I'd convinced myself she was too sick to travel; we couldn't go to Hawaii because she couldn't really walk on sand and wouldn't get in the water, so why spend the money; when she wanted to go Germany, I said save your money; when I went to South Africa, she really wanted to come, but I just wanted to be alone and get away; the Israel trip - just never happened, I had unpredictable gyn problems, I thought there would be time.  But mostly I prioritized my needs and wants over things that would have added a little joy to her life.

I'd say to myself - if we had a family home that she lived in, I'd move in a heartbeat. Because that would be easy.  But lots of people sell houses to be closer to loved ones, I just had to move out of my studio apartment.

What if she had phoned it in for me? I could have been living on the street, homeless, uneducated, damaged, broken.

What other lies did I let myself believe to get out of any real responsibility - I can't stay more than a few days; I feel like a child around here; I'm too sad to help, God understands; I've lost my voice - God would not have let that happen if he really wanted me to advocate for her; her doctors will take care of her; the aide will help her; she at least has people her own age at the retirement home that way I don't have to be her everything.

Basically, since my aunt's passing, I realized that the love she had for me didn't look like what I saw on TV so I didn't recognize or appreciate or reciprocate it when I had the chance. I finally got a house the two of us could live in - it still doesn't have a bedroom downstairs, but we probably could have made it work; so much of what I've done she'd be so proud of; I would be asking her for help for so many things; she would have loved to help me set it up, buying me all sorts of things to make the house a home. Coming into adulthood, I would deny her role in any of my accomplishments - I studied and got those grades; I got into college; I did this, not giving her full credit for providing me a safe, happy home, and her full support.

Now that I don't have it, I feel more alone than ever before!

The Race to $250k

Some recent life events have triggered and affirmed my plan to die Sat, Nov 8, 2031. Honestly, I'd forgotten the date and had to check my notes (and this blog). No one (God or otherwise) is coming to save me. I have to save myself! Adults meet their own needs.

Not getting the Big Pharma job was kind of disappointing. I'm handling it much better than anticipated, still not that well, but much better than where I was this time last year. I broke my own rules chasing the dollar. Oh, well.

I remember last year after my first job rejection thinking I never wanted to feel this way again. But my next thought was to fight back, so over the course of 2019 I'd inevitably get over it along enough to keep applying and keep hope anew.

But alas, it's true, I never want to feel this way again.

And if it's not this, it's something. It's little things too.

The joy I feel knowing I can check out when I want excites me, provides some sense of control. I like just having it as a default.  To me it's like, this annoying, stupid, hurtful thing happened, oh well, I'll be dead in x years.

I did the same old scratch notes as before, no real concrete plans, and decided to headline my next financial goal of $250k. That's my default goal for now. If I get fired or don't reach it by 2021, there are different branches of the decision tree.

But let's follow the happy trail for now.

Step 1: Reach $250k in savings and investments by Oct-Dec 2021.

Other things to do before then include taking a trip to Spain and Portugal. Not really sure why as much as it's a bucket list item and on my death salary, I don't think I'll afford to travel. Honestly, I don't enjoy travelling that much anymore.  Well, I  mostly just don't like not sleeping in my own bed; disrupting routines; air travel; and spending money.  But I figure those are the only other things I can think of that I wanted to do at some point in my life - that or maybe visit Israel. But Israel doesn't seem that relaxing or economical.

Other things 'going good' in my life
I finally got a shower head that shoots water instead of a light mist. In case you're also in the market, I got the Waterpik brand w/ PowerSpray for $22 at Walmart.

Some of my good routines in my new house/life are ongoing. Still keeping internet and TV out of bedroom. For most nights, I've been falling asleep and staying asleep to the sound of an audio book. Only once or twice, I've had to restart the audiobook after it automatically shut off.

Most nights, I have not been eating after 8p, so heartburn symptoms are at least not progressing.

I've cooked and used my oven three times just this week.

Love having a job eventhough the call volume has dramatically decreased (not so everywhere else in the world)!

Opportunities for improvement
Still working on stretching regularly.
Got a pile of dishes downstairs to wash.
Still not sure what to do about garbage pick-up. If I were brave, a colleague suggested talking the next door neighbor into splitting the cost. Ugh, humans.

Money news
I finally got my Chase credit card and kind of decided to use it even before shopping for washer and dryer. I need to watch that. That's a slippery slope. I've been in credit card debt twice now. But again, I got seduced by the dollar. I get $200 cashback if I spend $500. And there are 2 other cards I plan to apply for next month with similar cashback deals. I rationalized that I'm spending such huge amounts outside my normal everyday spending to setup house, that I might as well take advantage of some deals.  Keep me accountable on that, would ya?

Contemplating getting a kitchen utility table that was about $110, but with shipping and tax, it's about $150. That's more than my brain was hoping for.

Decided when the time comes, I'm going to sign up for direct deposit for stimulus checks. I usually don't like giving the government my information like that, but I figure I'll just use it to meet a direct deposit requirement on one of the bank bonuses I'm churning - two birds, one stone. I get the money faster and I don't have to give my information for my regular account.

Happy Resurrection Day (and more free money)!

Happy Easter!
No church this Sunday. I didn't even bother listening online.

Today I feel compelled to adopt a relative that lives overseas. I tend to want to make these sweeping life changes on Sundays. I'd say it's been ongoing for at least 5 years. It is on these idle Sundays that I applied to teach in Spain; applied for 200+ jobs in 2019;  attempted to legally change my name to Sparkles McFairy (not that exactly, but still); signed up for half a dozen bank bonuses a couple weeks ago.

I did bake some resurrection cupcakes. And yesterday I baked bacon in the oven. So I am actively using my oven. I meant to make potato salad today, but lost interest after the cupcakes were done.

I got my first mortgage bill! That's what excites me these days. Paying bills. Well, routine mostly. I'm still trying to pin down a routine as a homeowner who now permanently works from home.

Right now, I'd like to find an indoor hobby - craft or exercise.

Dental hygiene is also an issue. I usually brush because I have to see people, scary but true. When I don't have to see people, my hands and feet can't be bothered to brush and floss.

Things (I'd like) to do this week
  • Make potato salad
  • Take trash to the dump
  • Update mortgage information in BillPay/Explore Mortgage Servicer's Billpay site

More Free Money
A peer sent me an email yesterday that her stimulus check was about to post. She was notified via text from her bank.

It seemed a little Big Brother-y to me, but hey. I hadn't been following the news and had only heard this was a possibility, but now it's actually happening. Wow. As the young kids say, I am here for it!

I really am hopeful it helps those who need it most.

As a person who shelters in place by default, it feels like a nice cherry on top. Who can complain for getting money for doing nothing. Not I!

I checked to see how much I'd get, if any, and because of my period of unemployment in 2019, I actually qualify for the full amount. Strangely, with my 2018 pay, I would not have. I maintain that even though I make a little bit more in my current job, I'm bringing home less - due to actual hours worked and high insurance premiums.

I wonder when I'll receive the stimulus check because I've moved since filing my taxes and I didn't do direct deposit on my tax return.  Additionally, only some of my mail seems to be forwarded for reasons unknown.

It seems these days, some of us on this side of the spectrum are awash with "found" money. I received $5k in life insurance from my dearly departed. I mentioned earlier this week, that my student loan payments have been suspended for 4 or 5 months (~$2500). Then the bank bonuses I'm currently churning, granted I won't see much of that for 6 months. And for 2 years, I'm going to get about $700/ mon from my dearly departed's pension. Blessed. Fortunate. Financial security, or some semblance of it, really is freeing. Really.

A couple people I know have mentioned getting mortgage payments suspended and leniency with other debt payments. The friend I mentioned above is one of those. She also received a promotion, her regular bonus and yearly increase at her job.

Then there's others I know who work retail and their jobs have been suspended. Another peer is a physician, and Kaiser is making them use their accrued vacation time followed by unpaid leave. A doctor! That is so unexpected to me.

My employer actually sent out an email that they were putting a hold on "merit" increases for now. This is mostly the 2-3% cost of living increases.  So there's the pinch I've felt. But the stimulus check and suspended student loan payments more than make up for that!

Simple things affected by COVID

I have not been keeping up with the COVID news. I'm mostly just waiting until the stay at home order is lifted. Not much will really change for me; I hope to at least get a washer and dryer and maybe a fan installed. Lowe's will only deliver to the door now whereas in normal circumstances they'd install for free.

My cousin is getting married in May; I'm curious if the bans will be lifted by then. Actually, I'm not all that curious but other people are. It's not a wedding I was planning to attend.

I'd really like to get some volunteer work in and try to explore my community a bit before it gets too hot.

I really wanted to see the new Mulan movie that was supposed to premiere in March. Not sure if they ever launched it.

How has life been for you this Easter/COVID season??

Free Money from Student Loan

Thanks, government! So yes, I know this is my third post today, but so many feelings, so many things!

I checked my email right before logging in for work and I had a communication from FedLoan, my student loan servicer.

Me being out of the loop had no idea the CARES act was passed granting forbearance on federal student loans. Luckily, I kept my loans out of the hands of a private lender.

So from March 13 to Sep 30, 2020, I have to make ZERO student loan payments. A colleague had mentioned she was taking advantage of forbearance on her loans due to COVID 19, but I had not given it a second thought thinking I had just come out of forbearance and just wanted to leave my auto-pay as is.

But I didn't have to apply for it, it was just granted. I think my April 12 payment was already on the way so that may post, but as for May, June, July, Aug, Sep...that's free money in my pocket! At $529/mon that's $529 x 5 months = ~$2500!!

Thank the Lord!!

Best Easter ever! j/k. Obviously the first Easter was the best.

And it was easier than I thought on my BillPay to just change my next payment to Oct 2020. I thought I'd have to cancel it and reset it up in October.  Nope, it was just a few clicks - my favorite!

Other life update
Remember the I-reject-you-before-you-reject me scandalous email I sent this morning. Well the contract company, of course, didn't respond, but the client responded with a 'Thanks for the update and interest in our company.' That was unexpected and for an instant I thought maybe I jumped the gun (even though it's been over a month). Then I remembered oh wait, that's not an offer which is the objective of a job interview. They're just being polite. D'oh!

Some money, life, and housing updates

So I just posted about my new investment changes I'm implementing. I feel like this whole year so far I spent a lot of time thinking about money - moving money, making money, saving money, money-hacks.

Money update
The last bank bonus I was trying to get was with a small Christian Credit Union, and they have me jumping through so many hoops and creating so many log-ins. Not a fan! Luckily the last 4 days of work have been very manageable, so I've had time to jump through the hoops.

I updated my 2020 Budget spreadsheet, and as of March, I've spent about $8,000 on housing so far. Of which, $3,000 was rent for my old place and the rest was related to my new house (that I have on a lifetime lease from the bank).

In total I've invested about $135,000 in my lifetime, and it's currently valued at about $125,000. Ouch.

In other money news, I've opened a few checking accounts and hope to earn at least $1,000 this year in bank bonuses.

So far, through the pandemic, I'm still employed. Praise the Lord!

Life update
I scheduled quarterly check-ins with a total of 4 old pals that I reconnected with in 2019. I don't even know if I should call them friends. Colleagues? In 2019, I had hoped to have that instant friendship after years or decades of not talking. That didn't happen. I sort of wanted to let them go, but I realize every now and then it's nice to have a check-in with someone, just to get a pulse on life outside myself, I guess.  Since the check-ins are mostly virtual (think email, text, or chat), it feels moderately low-risk. So it's a good compromise for me.

I spiraled a little bit yesterday after not hearing back from the Delaware pharma job. The salary she quoted (not offered) was a little lackluster but still more than I make now, so that plays a tiny part in my desire to do nothing in terms of follow-up. I think the reasonable part of me says I should follow-up with them, but the emotional part of me is screaming: pick me!! The fractured part of me is saying oh, well, this affirms your ordinary life in this ordinary house living an ordinary existence. I don't think anyone I know personally even knows my new address. Just bill collectors.

In my spiral, I applied to 3 jobs online.  I broke my rule of getting out of the job market, but I just needed an outlet for my angst and the assumed rejection.  I also rafted an I-reject-you-before-you-reject-me email to another outlier I never heard from; it was a contract company so that rejection stung a bit. And I think I'm breaking an unspoken rule and sending it to the client directly as well. But I'm doing it as BCC because part of me knows it's wrong and I don't want the contract company to know. And to compound that, the client is actually the Delaware Pharma company who the other interview was with but for a different job. I know very convoluted, right! I self implode during a rejection crisis and especially when people ignore me.

Closely related, as much as I want to be comfortable talking about money matters, I think when people are making more than me or the same as me with less qualifications or education or "smarts", it makes me think I "deserve" to be making more. It's prideful, I know. Well that's another trigger identified. So when people are in jobs I think I could do better or I didn't get and are making more than me, the spiral continues.  This is why I told myself not to apply to any more jobs until I could properly heal and recover from the 2019 Rejection Crisis.

Housing update
I got a futon couch! I'd originally mentally budgeted for something nice, definitely comfier. But with Covid, going out shopping is a little difficult. I found something at Walmart that I was able to touch with my hands (but not sit on), and it felt soft enough for a temporary solution. It's not that soft in reality, but it'll have to do.

I finally changed the shower head and the water pressure is like taking bath in a puddle. So I'll have to change that again.

I've used the oven twice now! It's Good Friday, so I'm hoping to have some nice breakfasts this Easter weekend.

I think that's enough for now.

Why I'm leaving my robo advisor for Fidelity

So since 2018 when I entered the world of investing and really keeping my eye on my personal finance, I try to update my expenses and account balances spreadsheet. Since other bloggers have been talking about the market going down, I tried not to pay too much attention to my balances on my last update.

Then another colleague was talking about her balance that went down $40,000. So yesterday during a lull at work, I did a better job of modifying and updating a spreadsheet I'd started after the first downturn in the market I experienced. It tracks what I actually contributed vs the actual value of my investments. It's easier to understand the "loss" when I see how much of my money was actually invested vs some increased value compared to a decreased value.

After my first downturn, I found myself re-allocating my stock/bond ratio. I read that's not what you're supposed to. I eventually landed on an 80/20 split with my robo advisor and convinced myself to hold it there.

Throughout my periodic updates, I also noticed that my 401k seemed to outperform my robo-advisor. Mostly, when there were losses, the losses were greater with my robo advisor. I'd noticed the trend but wasn't quite sure what to do with it or what I could do with it. Mostly, since I was so new to investing I didn't trust myself.

Two years later, I'm still noticing the trend especially now that the account balances in my 401k and individual brokerage account are about the same.

As you can see, at nearly $60k in both, the robo advisor went down a lot more in recent months. So I'd just had it. I dug a little deeper and saw that my old 401k was wholly invested in a Fidelity Freedom 2045 fund. Since that seemed easy to replicate, I opened a brokerage account with Fidelity and stopped the auto-payments to my robo advisor. What made it a bit easier was my new employer has our 401k through Fidelity, so I just had to add the 2 new accounts as opposed to creating an entirely new profile with them.

The hard part
So I may not have posted this, but actually investing with an actual broker is hard for a novice like me. With the robo advisor, it was pretty easy to open the account. It's millennial friendly and much like opening a bank account. I pretty much just set up an auto-deposit from my bank and they do the rest. That was the initial draw to the platform, so I'll give them credit for that.

I opened a Vanguard account a couple weeks ago, and thought maybe it was just that site that was hard. Nope, investing with Fidelity is just as hard. What is difficult for me is you actually have to "buy" the fund. I don't know if I know what I'm doing. So I'm glad that my plan is just to stick with the Freedom Fund. So yes, I can transfer money from my bank account to Fidelity, but unless I actually trade or buy a fund, it just sits there. I just fear I could accidentally forget to actually invest it. I haven't found a way on either Fidelity or Vanguard to automatically invest money I transfer over from a bank.

Another hiccup is Fidelity is giving me an error message about automatically transferring funds from my bank to the Roth IRA. I have to do it manually any time I want to move money over. Help!

So again, I'm glad my first foray into individual investing was with a robo advisor or else the process might have intimidated me, but now that I at least know the destination, i.e. the Freedom Fund, I can maintain focus through the frustration.  The other thing I'm not sure about is that sometimes I see extra letters next to the Fund name. For example the Fidelity Freedom 2045 Fund sometimes is listed as Fidelity Freedom 2045 Fund K or 6 or something odd. I don't know if those are the same thing.

Also I looked up that same Fidelity Freedom 2045 Fund on Vanguard and the Vanguard website said it was not available to purchase. So I don't know if you can only purchase Vanguard Funds from Vanguard or what??

Lastly, I think my plan for now is to just to move my future contributions from robo-advisor to the Fidelity accounts. Once I get more comfortable and my balances with my robo-advisor shore up again, I might move them over.

Housing Diares: 1 Week Later

So I've been in my new place a week now. I moved in last Saturday, so I've spent 2 Saturday nights here. I officially turned in my keys to my old place yesterday. Well "officially" meaning that because of COVID 19 they just asked me to leave it in the apartment and 3 days later, they'd come by and walk through the apartment when it was safe.

Oh well.

Now that I'm getting into a routine here, I'm leaning into my "shelter in place" life. I've stocked up on yummy goodies for the next 2 weeks. I'm hoping to not have to leave my house for the next 2 weeks. It's like a paid staycation - my favorite kind of vacation.

I hope work continues to be a non-issue.

I miss my sainted aunt and that led to crying on and off for most of the afternoon yesterday into this morning. Well, I mostly just regret that her last days were not so great. I just wonder if I were supposed to play a bigger part in that. I feel regretful that I was so selfish. I blamed work and how unhappy I was.

Some things that are going well in the new place:
  • I've gone a week without eating in bed. (I've been eating in my office or on the floor in the living room.)
  • I think I did 6 out of 7 days not eating after 8p.
  • Only woke up once with heartburn cough so far. 
  • No internet use in the bedroom, so that has cut down my clicking around, not to a quantifiable amount yet, but getting there.
  • No TV in the room (I've been falling asleep to audioboks instead). 
Not too jazzed about:
  • Killed 3 or 4 bugs already. Gross.
  • I keep knicking and marking up the walls accidentally. They're so sensitive!
  •  Side swiping the neighbor's car with the moving truck. Whoops!
  • Different things that have ended up costing more because I was trying to be frugal (see bullet point above).
  • Undue pressure on myself to try to frugalize everything especially given the state of things. 
In other news, realizing I'm always going to need someone to talk to. Some things are exciting, or new, or anxiety ridden, and it helps to get it out there.  I don't know what this looks like in terms of friendship and my hesitancy towards them.

Still trying to reconcile my death date and how that informs my choices in regards to friends/family, career/career opportunities, seeking joy, personal finance choices.  Do I shoot for a basic life? A life with the least amount of upset? Pursue joy (knowing the risks of disappointment)?

In financial news, my bank bonus churning has slowed down. I think I only applied for one more account. I did get approved for one of the  Chase credit cards. I wish it would come already! I already spent at least $350 getting stuff for the new house. But, I think for my sanity and to keep things simple and not slide into that slippery slope of credit card debt, I'm saving the Chase cards for my washer/dryer. So I only have to charge it once and can pay it off immediately.  So I really need to exercise some patience and temperance and focus!

I should go, lest I continue to ramble on.