Week 2 of Awareness

Scary what lies ahead. Just have to share this eye-opening blog post.

Tom Bodett, quit leaving the lights on, will ya?

Deu Acres

DAY 1: So, what is oil?

There is so much talk about oil, the consequences of using it, and our dependence on it. But what is it?

The oil and natural gas we use today began millions of year ago, when millions of microscopic oceanic plants and animals died. These beings, containing the carbon they gained from the sun, sank to the ocean floor where they were gradually covered by layer after layer of sediment, other organisms, and bacteria for millions of years. Heat and pressure built up and formed the organisms into either oil or natural gas.2

And millions and millions of years later, humans began to harvest and consume these resources. The majority of this week will be focused on our relationship with the remains of those organisms.

DAY 2: Amount of oil remaining in the world

BP states that 1,687.9 billion barrels of oil remain, which would…

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Turning 60

I thought it would just be another birthday for a woman who really doesn’t pay much attention to her age and who is really not afraid of aging. But in the couple of weeks before the big day, I started having flashes of gold in my vision. What the heck?

My vision is important to me and absolutely something I want to keep for awhile so I went to see the eye doctor. Turns out the gold flashes were a sign that my eyes were going through a normal aging process, vitreous detachment. Ohh-kay. Happy birthday to me. However, if the vitreous tries to take the retina with it, then I had a chance of becoming partially or completely blind. Not ok.

Then my teeth decided to celebrate my birthday, too. I went to the dentist which I do routinely because I have a goal of keeping my natural teeth all my life. The bad habits of youth resurfacing as I age- a couple of my teeth that had some pretty large and very old fillings were beginning to crack. Great. Here come the crowns, three of them for an average cost of about a thousand bucks a piece. Happy birthday to me.

I am thankful that the eye thing resolved without any further problem and that I can afford the crowns. At this time I have medical and dental insurance. But it makes me realize that, as I plan to retire early and live on as little as possible, I do need to put some cash aside to cover health care costs that insurance won’t cover.

Truthfully, I was hoping, since I have been in very good health all of my life, with both parents in their 90’s and still living, that I could just neglect getting any insurance at all. I realize now, that if I do that, I have to increase the cash savings or forgo treatment.

Blind? Toothless? Not something I want. Some things are worth spending money on.

I wonder if some of the bloggers I follow who live on very little, retiring early but are still ‘young’, ever think about what their future might hold as far as health?



No Washing Machine

The new apartment I moved to doesn’t have a washer or dryer. I debated buying at least a washer because I could always use the balcony to line dry. (Fortunately, the balcony is on the side of the apartment, away from the ‘public’ area and strategically hidden from the apartment next door by some tall evergreen trees).

I considered my alternatives:

  1. Rent the washer. Well, this certainly is not consistent with my goal to reduce my monthly expenses.
  2. Purchase new- absolutely not considered due to the cost.
  3. Buy used from Craig’s list, etc. I nixed this idea because I get nervous about buying something that either ‘needs work’ or will soon ‘need work’. And then there is the problem of getting the washer from there to here. I would need a truck. And a dolly to get it up to my second floor apartment.
  4. Buying used from an appliance store would provide some assurance that the machine would work and it would also be delivered. However, considering I plan to move in a year, do I really want a washer to add to the moving list?

Do I even need a washing machine? That became the question. Is there something else I could use?

I could go to the laundromat. But I hate going to the laundromat. And that means more money being spent.

Then I remembered the posts I read at annienygma when Annie’s washing machine went kaput.She mulled the options she had.

What options do I have? Hand-washing is one of them. And it is a viable option, at least for me, because I work at home, I pretty much wear the same clothes a few days in a row (except the undies, of course) and I really don’t have a lot of laundry to wash.

I discussed this option with my roomies- my sister and my mom. My sister was pretty much game for anything because she has a goal very similar to mine- downsize, minimize and frugalize.

My mom, who doesn’t even do her own laundry by the way, was aghast at the thought of living without the convenience of a washer. At the age of 94, she has lived through a lot and, while she didn’t experience the beating the laundry on the rocks at the local creek era, she pretty much saw the evolution of the modern day washer and certainly, raising a large family, saw it as a necessity.

However, since she doesn’t do her own laundry, I decided to proceed with my decision to not buy a washer and come up with an alternative.

I would be fine washing my clothes by hand either in the bathroom sink or tub. But my sister wasn’t really keen on that. So, we came up with this option:

The laundry pod the-laundry-podWill let you know how it works!


When you want to quit, how low will you go?

I’ve decided to work hard toward an early retirement (like, maybe in August 2017) and that will be quite the challenge considering the debt I need to pay off and the money I need to squirrel away.

‘been thinking a lot about how I can accomplish this and this led me to think, how low go I go? How much am I willing to give up in terms of my current lifestyle with this goal of retiring early?

This led me to come up with an amount of money I am willing to live on each year.

Because I hate completing my taxes every year and I hate accountants and lawyers (sorry if you, reader, are either or both of those), I am thinking about earning just enough to not have to file.Or, if I file, just need to file that EZ form.

According to Turbotax,

In 2016 for example, if you are under age 65 and single, you must file a tax return if you earn $10,350 or more, which is the sum of the 2016 standard deduction for a single taxpayer plus one exemption.

I can then add my college kid for another exemption of $4500, which brings my total to $14,850. Once a month, I can hand $375 over to the kid. Good luck living on that, honey.

Keeping the long term in sight,  I am preparing to live on the $10,350, increasing it as allowed by the IRS.

I know there will be some state tax to pay and I am ok with that because the state tax form is pretty easy to gag my way through.

So, here is what I’ve come up with so far: rapidly pay down my debt, rapidly build up my 401K and HSA so I can retire when I turn 60 in August.

I plan to live on $10, 350 each year from my 401K until I draw from Social Security.

Starting today, I am going to practice living on that amount, which comes out to $28 a day.


I moved (again) and downsized (again)

Finally done with the move and settled into the new apartment. I could not believe all the stuff we accumulated during the 5 years we lived in the previous apartment.

And that was after having a moving sale when moving from the huge house we lived in during the 5 years previous to that. (What’s up with this 5 year thing?)

In all fairness (to me), it is not all of my stuff. There are three of us moving but one is heading off to college.


This is what was left after having yet another moving sale- sans the furniture.

Do I really need all of this stuff??

Putting things into the moving sale, packing up the remaining ‘essentials’ and then unpacking it all again caused me to reflect on just what is essential and what is not.

One of the criteria I came up with in selecting what to keep and what to sell is whether the item is single-purpose or multi-purpose.

For example, this has one purpose:


It slices cheese.



But this does the same thing, plus more!


So, I gave the cheese slicer to my daughter.

Did I really need this?

kitchen-step-stool   or this  computer-chair

when I have four of these?







So, looking at pretty much everything I owned, I got rid of anything that had just one purpose.

Single-purpose items. I thought they saved time or worked better but now I realize that I wasted my money on a lot of things when I already have something that could do the job just as well.


It is 2016 and I have no rights?

I work as a nurse for a major health insurance company. According to the US Department of Labor, I am “salary exempt.”

Salaried Exempt Employees

Employees classified as both salaried and exempt receive the minimum weekly wage for salaried workers, plus they are exempt from the FLSA regulations on overtime pay based on their job duties and responsibilities. Employees who work in an administrative, executive or professional capacity generally are exempt from overtime rules because the work involves duties related to the company’s management. Some outside sales personnel and employees in computer-related occupations are exempt as well. The criteria for exempt classifications vary; however, a common thread in the exempt status criteria is that employees must use independent judgment in performing the majority of their job duties. Exempt workers do not receive overtime pay, yet the company expects them to work as many hours as it takes to fulfill their job duties, even if they have to work more than 40 hours during the workweek.

Houston Chronicle

It sucks. I was told I must work as long as it takes to get the job done and I can not work less than eight hours on any work day. If need be, I work 10 or 12 hours to get the day’s assigned work done but I can’t take any flex time or comp time and I sure as hell don’t get overtime.

Our work load and our responsibilities are increasing daily. Our ability to use ‘independent judgement’ is being restricted more and more. Many of my co-workers are working 50 or more hours each week to get it all done.

Let’s talk about

Rights of exempt employees.

An exempt employee has virtually “no rights at all” under the FLSA overtime rules. About all an exempt employee is entitled to under the FLSA is to receive the full amount of the base salary in any work period during which s/he performs any work (less any permissible deductions). Nothing in the FLSA prohibits an employer from requiring exempt employees to “punch a clock,” or work a particular schedule, or “make up” time lost due to absences. Nor does the FLSA limit the amount of work time anemployer may require or expect from any employee, on any
schedule. (“Mandatory overtime” is not restricted by the FLSA.)


Really? This sucks.