Coffee Chat with Ashley

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done a coffee chat (like….literally its been years). This is where I imagine us having a little coffee friend-date and getting updates on each other’s lives. Dive in below for my updates and please leave comments with YOUR life updates!

Health Updates

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your and your family’s health. Unfortunately, I’ve had a pretty sickly last month. I spent a good ten days down with Covid. As soon as that cleared up, I had maybe 2 good days before I broke out in a full body rash. My official diagnosis was hives caused by some type of allergic reaction, and it took another trip to urgent care and a 5-day prescription for prednisone to clear up symptoms. Still waiting on the bills for that to come in, but I’m very grateful to have a Health Savings Account so this doesn’t have to come from my normal budget.

In the midst of the crazy full-body rash, I also had to complete my routine medical labwork for my kidney disease. I have a bad kidney due to recurring kidney stones and while I am grateful everything is under control and I have a great specialist….I absolutely loathe the labwork. It requires me to collect my urine for 24-hours, take into the office for testing, and get a couple vials of blood drawn at drop-off. Typically, this labwork only has to be done once/year, but at my annual check-up one of my numbers was off, so my medicine was adjusted and I had to redo all the labwork only 3 months later. Knock on wood that my next follow-up shows my numbers in a good range, and I won’t have to redo the dreaded urine collection for another year.

Table Update

If we were having coffee, I’d probably ask if you have done any redecorating anytime recently. I am *not* an HGTV girlie, and while I love watching the shows, I know I don’t personally have that type of talent. That said, I would be excited to share that I’m getting my new kitchen table! It’s a big, gorgeous 9-piece Dining Set on sale from Costco this month for only $1400 (including delivery and setup!).

I just ordered it so it’s not here yet, but will be here soon and I can’t wait! I saved up to pay in cash by cutting my spending in several categories. To be honest, a perk of being sidelined sick for half the month of August is that I had almost no social engagements, no eating out, no shopping or superfluous spending, etc. Plus, I finally got paid for some side-work I did back in May. I agreed to participate in some advanced professional development training and take what I learned back to my department. In exchange, I received compensation for my time. It took forever for the money to finally hit my paycheck, but it came through in August.

Job Updates

I would want to know how your job is going. Do you enjoy it? Are you feeling valued and happy? I’ve been going back to campus more in-person these days (I spent a solid year-and-a-half fully remote, but now I’m approx. 50-50 in person vs remote). I have mixed feelings about it. I have missed my coworkers and there are some benefits of being able to quickly ask someone a question in the office versus having a formal meeting. But, going to campus comes with additional costs (gas, parking, time of the hour round-trip commute), and I feel less productive in the office because there are always more distractions.

That said, I wanted to update on asking for a raise. Over the summer I shared some tips about asking for a raise and never reported back on my progress. I did in fact get a raise. It was not as much as I had hoped or wanted, but I am grateful for the raise nevertheless. I had gone into the meeting asking for 10% and ended up with 5%. Given inflation, it’s pretty minimal. But I know that talking about compensation should be an ongoing conversation. Even if I didn’t get what I wanted over the summer, that’s okay. I’m going to ask again sometime later this Fall. I’m also positioning myself to apply for a sabbatical. And I’m still doing little side-hustle situations like the professional development training I just mentioned. So on the whole, I’m happy with my salary situation and feel well compensated.

Kid Updates

I would want to know about the kids! What activities are they into now? How are they doing in school? I would share that both my kids are in choir this year, and one of my daughters is in cross-country for the first time! I’ve been a runner for many years so it’s been extremely exciting to watch her follow in my footsteps and I am loving cheering her on at cross-country meets! I’m so proud of them both!

I’d also update you on the debit card situation. I’d mentioned getting my kids debit cards so they could start learning how to budget their money and spend wisely, etc. So far, I feel like it’s been going really well! I ended up going with the Greenlight Core plan ($5/month for up to 5 kids). I love how easy it is for me to transfer funds, and for them to have different designated accounts within their app (e.g., saving, spending, donating, etc.). I also love the oversight – I receive automatic messages whenever they spend anything. I think eventually I’ll move them over to a free kids’ account (some suggested a Capital One teen account, and I’m a big Capital One fan – I use their travel credit card and 360 savings accounts for myself), but I’m happy with Greenlight for right now.

Upcoming Plans or Goals

Before we part ways, I’d want to know what the next couple months looks like for you on the horizon. Do you have any big plans or goals you want to share? What are you working toward personally, professionally, etc?

I would be thrilled to share that I’m hoping/planning to pay off my car in October. I still owe about $5,000 and that is more than my monthly budget can absorb. However, I have an EF with $5,000 and a few other CapitalOne360 savings accounts with other various pots of money. I have accounts for annual fees, student loan savings, a car repair fund, and more). Now that my table savings is complete, I’m going to redirect those funds toward my car loan. And then I think I’ll take whatever I’m “short” from my savings accounts to pay the whole thing off in one swoop.

The reason why I’ve set the target date of October is two-fold: 1) I bought the car in Oct 2021, financing $20k, and it will feel sooooo good to have paid it off in exactly 2 years. I can be very proud of paying $10k/year to get it paid off. And I know how good it will feel to be car payment-free again!!! 2) Student loan payments resume in October, so the money I would have been putting toward my car loan is now likely going to be pulled over into my student loan debt payment. I still owe $26,561 in student loans, and that will be my last remaining debt besides the mortgage.

Money talk aside, I really want to spend some time this Fall trying to re-prioritize my health. I’ve let a lot slide in the past year and I’m ready to recommit to healthy eating, regular exercising, adequate sleep, etc. I can’t help but think that some of my health issues have been due to putting my own health on the back-burner and I’m ready to reclaim that part of me. I might sign up for a running race this Fall to help get me motivated and stay on track. I hope next time we meet for a coffee date, I can share some fun updates on that.

Please join in! Share your updates and answers to my questions in the comments!

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