Procrastination (But I Digress)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Training Days

So I am the type of person who will look for the very cheapest gas price.  I usually will not drive out of my way to get the cheapest gas (luckily I have a few on my regular routes) and I will let the gas gauge go down to fumes so that I get gas during a regularly scheduled trip rather than making a special trip.  I go to a lot of trouble planning and plotting to save that .45 cents per month.

Now that live in Chatsworth too, I am taking the train into Glendale and back.  But not everyday.  Some weeks I have as many as eight trips, but some weeks I have as few as three.  And the train is actually more expensive than gas for my awesome prius that gets 42 miles to the gallon.  However, I hate the drive and it is better for the environment to take the train, so take the train is the premier option.  I really hate the drive.

In September, I purchased the monthly pass to Glendale.  It was very expensive and I hated seeing that charge.  All during the month I tried different train stations and different routes.  If I have to go to court downtown, it took too long to get on the freeway from Glendale and it was actually faster to get on from the Burbank station which is right next to the freeway.  [I drive from the train to court, because the train does not come back to Glendale between 9:50 a.m and 1:00 p.m.--that's a lot of wasted time when most of my court appearances are over at 10:15.]  And the Burbank station is closer to my house and I was always needing to go by the house in Glendale for one thing or another even on the days I was going back to Chatsworth.  So I figured out that I should get the train at Burbank, not Glendale.  And it's cheaper.  I love that.

However, when it came time to buy the monthly pass for October, I hesitated.  I was having a lot of work done (the roof) on the Glendale house, so I was going to be there a lot more.  I did a little quick math and realized that it would be cheaper to buy 10 trip passes for the month of October.  The only problem is that there would be two trips left over that would go to waste if I bought a monthly pass in November.  Then it was no longer cost effective to buy the second 10 trip pass. 

After the first 10 trip pass was expired, I did a chart of my expected trips for the next three months and determined that it wasn't going to be cost effective to buy a monthly pass in November, because I have some evening classes and Caitlyn's girl scouts is starting.  But I was also going to have trips left over on a 10 trip pass if I purchased a monthly pass for December, which I did determine will be totally cost effective.  So now I have a chart of when to buy a 10 trip pass, the week to buy a weekly pass and the days that I have to buy single trips.  I'm going to save about .45 cents.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Four Pounds

So Michelle, my best friend from my college days, calls a few weeks ago to tell me that she needs a heart transplant.  Are you on a list, I ask.  No, she says.  Her doctor wants her to lose weight first.  She has to lose 12 lbs by her next appointment in January.  A pound a week, I say, encouraging--you can do that.  She says she wants to have lap band surgery.  What??? I exclaim.  You have a bad heart and you want to have surgery?  That sounds awful.  Surely no doctor would approve such an action.  Yes, her doctor did approve it, since the weight is more of a threat to her weak heart than surgery would be.  I'm not buying it, but luckily, Michelle needs $800 to be able to get the surgery and she hasn't saved it up yet.  Nononononono, I tell her.  Join Weight Watchers.  Exercise.  Lose your one pound a week the old fashion way--diet and exercise.  Slow and steady wins the race. 

So she hems and haws, but later she texts me that she will join weight watchers if I do.  So I do.  Now it would be great if we lived next door to each other and we could go walking (except she walks really slow and she always preferred running and I like to walk fast, but I'm not much into running) and go to weight watcher's meetings together (except I would know if she was cheating and I'd get in her face and vice versa and let's face it, we want to look good in public), but (sadly) we live on opposite sides of Los Angeles. 

But she joined her weight watchers and I joined mine.  I actually drank tomato juice last week and texted her and she texted back that she was drinking water with lemon (yuck).  I stayed within my points (for a whole week, sarcastic woo hoo) and lost 1.4 lbs (the particular weight in day was a go to the dentist day, so I hadn't eaten all day, which is why my woo hoo is sarcastic).  Michelle lost 1.5 lbs.

Now I have to try to figure out if I should let her win or become super competitive.  I mean if I don't take it seriously, then she won't.  But I am a super competitive person.  She beat me (and since I had weighted in on a very unusual day, she probably beat me soundly). 

And then there are the personal benefits of losing weight.  A whole week on the plan and I'm sleeping better.  The weight watcher cheer leader said that for every pound you lose, that's four pounds of pressure off your knees.  My knees kill me and yet this morning I did not struggle as much (still struggled--four pounds off when I need over a hundred pounds off is not that much) going up the stairs.

So I have hit upon a plan of attack.  I'm not going to go crazy.  I'll do my best to stay within my points, but I know from experience the real way to lose weight is to sprinkle in some starvation.  I won't do that.  And I'll take my little losses and multiply them by four in my head, because my real goal is to take pressure off my knees.  On paper I'll be slow and steady (and hopefully Michelle will beat me, because she needs to lose a bit more than me), but in my head I'll be slaughtering the competition.  My little diet handicap.

By the way, tiny bags of m&m's are only 1 point, right?  They're so little.  I certainly don't need to check out something so tiny.  I'm going with 1 point.   The cheerleader said sugar is evil, but I'm not drinking that koolaid.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof is off the House

That's either the lyrics to a long repressed song I haven't heard in a while, or the lyrics to the song I should be writing and I am a repressed musical savant.  But I digress (already--perhaps a new world's record).

My house needed a new roof...about three years ago.  I had it fixed and they said, it will last one more year.  The next year I got an estimate for a new roof--$12,000, but it is still in good shape--you have another two years worth.  Then it leaked and I got it fixed and then it leaked some more and I got it fixed by a different new guy that was checked and double checked by my friend who knows about this stuff.  Then ceilings started turning yellow.  Ok, it's not leaking per se--no water dripping into a bucket, but yellow ceilings are not a good sign.

So I outlasted leaks and yellow ceilings and I got to my two years worth, so that I had no more excuses  EXCEPT, I decided to sell the goliath and be done with it.  Except, no one wanted to buy it.  No one.  Ok, I guess I have to keep it.  So I went in to get a home equity loan, because I had been deferring maintenance and it would need some big time maintenance if I planned to rent out part of the house.  They wanted me to get a roof first.  We finally compromised that I would get a roof within three months.  It's the third month.  Yes, I scheduled the new roof for the beginning of the third month (long story.  That is so funny that it would be a different long story as to why I waited so long to schedule the new roof, but I digress).

Then it rained.  Not a slight drizzle like we had in June when it almost has never rained in June--a torrential rain.  In October.  In sunny California.  It is usually hot in October.  One year I had to run my air conditioner in October and I never turn that thing on.  So the roof was postponed to the following week.  It will take one week:  Tear off on Monday, inspection that afternoon, start work on Tuesday and it will take rest of week to finish by Friday.  I now have a three week cushion to my bank deadline, no worries.

Except we didn't pass inspection on Monday.  The City wanted the roofer to use plywood for the whole roof (like I have the slightest clue what that means when Chuck tells me).  That will cost me an additional $700.  So I can wait, while he contests the inspector's decision or I can authorize the additional $700 and they can start again tomorrow, only one day behind.  NO. 

Let's start with the fact that I don't have $700 just lying around to pay.  Then let's move to the fact that when it rained that torrential rain last week, the ceiling in the pink bedroom fell in--that's right I waiting one week too long to replace the roof.  I had already contracted to pay $800 to fix the ceiling and repaint that room--so yes, I do know how to spend money I don't have, but I am already at my maximum capacity this week (month, year...).  And then let's go right to the crazy.  $700?  Is this a scam.  In the two years since the first estimate (same company), the price has gone up almost $2,000.  I went to cut throat company and their estimate was the same, so I thought that was a sign that the contractor I hired gave me a good price.  Is this how he is able to do that--by piling on the extras???

I told Chuck to go back and fight with the City.  So he went back to fight with the City.  Their supervisor will have to review it--he's not in until tomorrow.  So the next day (I'm told) that Chuck speaks with the supervisor who needs to review the matter, but he doesn't give us an answer until the afternoon.  It's a split the baby decision--Chuck will have to put plywood in some low places, but he's fine with sheathing for the rest.  Chuck does not ask me for more money (yet) so it's ok by me.  Remember, my roof is off my house already--not a lot of options for me.  So we get the decision late Tuesday, but we still have to wait until Wednesday for the inspection that we didn't pass on Monday.  We're not at the top of their list being such a problem and we are at the end of the inspector's day on Wednesday.  Yeah, this job is going into next week.

So all week, even when we were waiting for the inspection there were a couple of guys on the roof, occasionally hammering and such--who knows what.  Chuck said, that Friday was going to be a very busy and loud day--he'd be making real progress on Friday.  Adrienne said, she didn't hear much.  Monday, bright and early I got a call to give me the finish schedule:  Noon to three, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then the final inspection and they will be done by the following Monday.

They haven't said anything about extra costs and the City already hates my house, but hopefully I will soon have a new roof with a week to spare on my deadline for the bank.

The roof, the roof, the roof...hopefully I don't even have to think about it for 20 years.  I'm going to be in my Seventies in 20 years.  I can't see myself really caring much then.  Therefore (logically speaking), I never have to worry about the roof ever again after this week.  This could have been done by now, if I'd just paid the stupid $700 bucks.  Oye.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pride Goeth

So when I was in law school, I took an elective class in tax law.  That was by far the most difficult class I had taken in my entire education career.  I know I didn't fail in the class, but I'll bet that I dropped it and have blocked out the memory.  All I remember is a very thick book with very tiny writing and being completely lost during the lecture.

And yet, I absolutely refuse to pay to have someone else do my taxes for me.  I am so stuborn about this even though my taxes have become more and more complicated over the years and for the past three years, I've received corrections from the IRS, because I've done them wrong. 

To be fair to my stuborn self, I do have a tax attorney in my firm who answers my questions and I am a college graduate.  I am bound and determined to squeeze every last possible benefit out of all the work and money I put into becoming a college graduate.  And it should be logical.  It is sort of logical.  All the forms are on the internet along with publications and I know how to read publications and make sense out of them.  Sort of.  Mostly.

But three years of mistakes--that's like strike three.  And now I have rental income.  There are professionals for this stuff for a reason.  When I see trusts and wills that people do on line, I want to cry about how much they don't know, they don't know.  So this year I was going to draw the line in the sand and make myself go see my friend who is a CPA who does mostly tax work.   I trust him completely and however much money I spend on his services, I am happy to pay him.

So I'll just put together some notes before I call him.  I started with the IRS web cite to find out what expense receipts I should be saving.  Oh look, I can deduct depreciation.  How do I figure that out.  Five hours and three publications later, I feel quite confident that I can do my own taxes again this year.

Uh oh.