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Extension progress? Not much.

The title really says it all. Fraser is still enjoying his “long precontemplative stage”.

Meanwhile, I am trying to clear barriers, so that we will be ready to go when he emerges. Three big steps forward this week.

I went up to our local council on Friday, having paid $65 for them to retrieve a copy of the plans of our house. “Oh, congratulations!” said the guy at the building counter. “It’s exactly 15 years since these plans were approved!”

I frowned. Thought. Counted on my fingers, to be sure.

We bought the house on 13 June 1996. Renovated.

We had visited the house several times, over several weeks.

It was renovated then, too.

And the plaster panels in the walls were dated March 1996.

I decided it was best not to think about it any more.

Then I had a long chat to the building counter guy, which was mostly about him trying to say things without saying them. Which I am not very good at understanding. Essentially, we have to have a car space at the back of the house, even if we don’t use it. Which is bad news. The good news is that putting a big double gate on the back fence would count as off-street parking even if the only parking was on the back lawn. But that’s not really the greatest idea ever.

His other advice was to get EVERYTHING specified, even before we talk to builders. Which makes our probable upcoming meeting with an architect a good starting point. It also means that I can really work on the “fun” stuff during Winter – choosing tiles, floors, paint colours, sinks, etc – really working up that spec. I explained to Fraser that I am happy to do it, but that after I do that work it would be VERY bad not to go ahead with it. I tried to be stern.

As for timing, we have 19 months. Building Counter Guy says that’s do-able. Much more do-able than the many people who turn up when they find out that (a) they are pregnant and (b) they have nowhere for the baby to go. In his words: “In a race between a baby and a house, the baby always wins.” It is, however, not entirely generous.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen our accountant to get my tax on the way to done. A little homework and by the time you are reading this he will be working his magic. As a Self-Employed Person, I need lots of tax returns to show that I am Responsible and Income-Earning when we go to the bank to ask them for a (really very modest) sum of money to pay for these renovations. I slightly suspect that my LATE tax returns only demonstrate 50% of these properties. But I brought my accounts up to date and in the process (I have already admitted this to Fraser and he was justifiably scathing) discovered a bank account that I’d squirrelled some money away into and then forgotten about. Mortifying. But also, fabulous. I can deal with that.

On Sunday, I decluttered the Cupboard Under The Sink and discovered scary amounts of duplicates and of things I don’t want and a Lifetime Supply of Oven Cleaner. More than that, really, because there were 4 cans of the stuff and when we renovate we will get a pyrolitic oven that doesn’t need it. If anyone in the local area needs a can of rather old oven cleaner, please let me know. You even have a choice of brands! And then I cleaned out the plasticware cupboard and sorted all the lunch containers so Fraser can’t complain that we have no lids.

And I enrolled Otto at the IKEA childcare place. Because I foresee quite a few visits there in the next few months. And she loves going there to play.

Next steps:

  • Meet with architect for preliminary designs (we have an agreed trigger point for this).
  • Work up specs (Isn’t that what Pinterest is for?).
  • Pay taxes (ugh).
  • Swedish meatballs.
 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in children, decluttering, extension, tax

 

This week in my life

There was a trip to the dentist. Resulting in a bruised jaw and droopy anaesthetised eyelid. Very attractive, me.

Also two trips to the Children’s Hospital, involving four vials of blood and a chest x-ray.

There was a trip to my accountant to do OMGTAX. And, if I manage to squeeze it in, a trip to the local council offices to view and photocopy the plans for our house.

There were traffic lights on Facebook that made it into my blog. And a bad friend who quoted the Traffic Light song and now I have an earworm.

There was a Diagram of Cheese, which did not. Until now. I don’t think it’s very complete.

There was an ill-advised Trip to IKEA (if I count last Sunday as part of this week).

Two gifts were bought for Fraser. He does not know what they are so I cannot tell you, Dear Reader. But they are awesome. And one might be for Sharing. Tragically, though, neither of them is Spy Cufflinks.

There was lots of work, jammed in between driving the Bigster around and hangin’ at the hospital.

And Nigerian Spam, addressed to Dearest One. Which made me feel happy even though it was from the Bad People.

There were no games at all, and only one very mediocre book. (See my slightly ranty review of the latest Pern novel, Todd & Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon’s Time at Goodreads – warning, SPOILERS sweetie!)

But there were TWO purple vegetables. Neither of which is usually purple.

And there was excitement about the upcoming Doctor Who card game by Martin Wallace.

As weeks go, I’d give it a 7.5/10.

 

Decluttering many things. A bit. Also, rambling. And some shopping.

With the amount of work I have done in the last 12 months, I’ve not had a lot of time to myself. Too many long days and late nights have not only sent my stress levels soaring, they’ve also seen our (always cluttered and messy) house really deteriorate.

Last Friday, I made a stand. But instead of cleaning THEIR rooms, I cleaned mine. I dragged things out of cupboards, put shoes back on shelves, made room for some of Fraser’s shirts in the cupboard (first time in years). There’s more to do, and the funky layout of our bedroom coughTooMuchFurniturecough doesn’t help, but it’s better than it was. And one more Friday should get it to where I want it to be.

My side of the room, that is. While I feel strongly that we should share the blame responsibility for the rest of the house, there is a clear demarcation line in the bedroom.

I have a history of trying to declutter. A few years ago, I hired a Professional Organiser to help me and I learned some stuff about how to throw things out. And then she spent a session working with Fraser and I really think it is a miracle that they didn’t come to blows. But that was expensive and really I need to be able to do this stuff myself.

The best attempt I ever made at decluttering was when we refurbished the study. By which I mean, got rid of the old crappy bookshelves and moved things around to make room for my desk and Fraser’s poker machine. And an armchair. The good part was that we paid a couple of students to come over and just pack everything in the room into boxes. No matter what it was. The boxes all went into the Bigster’s room, we cleaned the carpet and put in the new shelves, then we started unpacking. And we threw out (or gave away) roughly a third of what had been in the old study. It was time-consuming, but everything had a place. And when we renovate, I am going to do the same thing. And then give myself a month off to unpack everything!

Anyway. After last week’s bedroom decluttering, yesterday, on that day off where we ended up going ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE (and enjoying it), I sorted some of my tax stuff, opened some mail that had been frightening me (our accountant is lovely, but show me anything related to tax and I am completely paralysed), updated some of my accounts and logged some expenses and OMG MADE AN APPOINTMENT TO DO MY TAX. Which is just a huge thing because see my note about paralysis? I really mean it. Tax and dentists. And heights. Not things I can think about without serious, terrifying terror.

And then Fraser and I sat down and had a conversation about money. Which I think is hugely productive and helpful because we have such different attitudes to money – he is much more cautious and anxious than I am. And he wants me to tell him EVERY SINGLE TIME I use our joint credit card which drives me batty because it is like he is CHECKING UP ON ME and WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS MY DAD OR SOMETHING and it all goes downhill from there. And I don’t reply to his emails about it because to me they are a low priority and then he gets more annoyed because I am being IRRESPONSIBLE and I get annoyed because he is being UNTRUSTING and – yeah. Downhill. On wheels. So instead, I suggested that we sit down every two weeks to talk about Money Stuff and he can go through the VISA card statement then if he wants to. It’s how we found out that Otto had somehow signed up for Club Penguin. She doesn’t quite understand that the bit about “ask your parents” isn’t just for children who can’t read yet. And that was a useful session and I think quite productive. And next week we will talk about Family Stuff. I have even scheduled time in our calendars for this.

ANYWAY. I did more Accounts Stuff today to try to get ready for our accountant meeting next week. And then I cleaned under my desk AGAIN which was annoying because (a) there was lots of stuff that Fraser & the kids had kicked through from under his desk AGAIN and (b) there was some of my stuff that was hiding under my desk which probably means that Otto had got it down there to play with and (c) I discovered (EWWWW) that I was not in fact Incorrect and Imagining Things in thinking that the cats had been wizzing somewhere in the Study and it is in fact just under where our desks meet (but on Fraser’s side – ha!) and then I had to clean up catwizz and carpet and it really was more than just a little bit disgusting.

And now I have cleared my desk (well mostly). Suffice it to say, my next trip to IKEA involves much-needed cable trunking.

So that was my two big (OK medium-sized) decluttering efforts in the last week or so. Three, if I count the accounts and invoicing and stuff – which is definitely mental clutter.

And now I want to make Sweeping Grand Plans like “I will declutter the whole house, watch me, I can do this” – but common sense and the voice of experience suggest that this plan is Doomed. So instead I have a short-term goal: This week, I am going to do a little bit of decluttering Every Single Day. That feels like enough of a challenge for now.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2012 in decluttering, grand plans, shopping, tax

 

When banks and logic don’t entirely mix.

I had an eye-opening conversation with my bank this week. A sort of pre-pre-renovation conversation.

The big thing in Australian homeloans is “100% offset accounts”. What this means is that if you borrow $100,000 but you have $40,000 in deposit funds, your deposits count against your borrowings and you only pay interest on the $60,000 gap. Which is awesome because otherwise you would pay interest on $100k and then earn a little bit of interest on $40k and then pay tax on that leaving only a pittance that is probably not even enough to purchase an Inspection Camera.

This is important because when I get paid, I get paid in lump sums, and then I can go for months without being paid again. (Especially as I am Crap At Invoicing and really need someone to hold my hand to get all that stuff done.) So I have two important bank accounts with varying sums in each:

  • One is the 40% of everything I earn that I put aside for taxes, which gets paid to the taxation department in a lump sum if when I actually get around to doing my tax return.
  • And the other is the account where my money sits until I pay myself – because it seems better to average it over the year and pay myself slowly.

(Note: I know that there are other ways I could do this with budget lines and things and all in one physical bank account. But I would prefer not to do that because it just encourages me to fudge the money and buy shoes.)

What I would like to have is a homeloan with TWO (or even three, if Fraser has any spare cash lying around) of these magical 100% offset accounts.

And apparently this cannot be done.

I could, however, split the loan in half and have TWO homeloans, each with its own offset.Or three, if Fraser wants to do this as well.

Because that makes a lot more sense.

If only there were a Free Gift With Every New Homeloan. I could make a killing.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in extension, not your earth logic, tax

 

Rewards and goals

Playing around with my phone, I discovered a half-formed post which I thought was worth finishing.

Fraser and I have a “when we win the lottery” list. Technically, I guess, there are two lists. Mine is both longer and less specific than Fraser’s (which includes a full set of every Star Trek DVD ever made). Being more practical, mine includes room to store those DVDs.

Since I discovered Pinterest, there’s a lot more stuff on my list.

In conversation a few months ago, someone mentioned her list. It’s very short – just one item – but what struck me is that it’s not a reward for the ultimately passive achievement of winning a lottery: it was a reward for earning more than $x on a particular type of project.

I think I like that. There can (and should) still be a lottery plan (how else is Fraser going to get his DVDs), but there should be another that’s about plain hard work. And there should be lots of things on there.

My new mission is to tie some of my goals to more specific things, and find ways to get that really fabulous “treat” feeling into everyday life.

And the first specific thing – as usual – is Do My Invoicing: I just need to find a suitable goal/reward.

I’m thinking shoes.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in grand plans, tax

 

Tax time

I have an appointment to do my tax on Wednesday.

I actually felt panicked before I made the call. Ugh.

I have a lot to do before Wednesday.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2009 in tax

 

And three weeks zipped by ..

Last time I counted, it was 6 weeks till we left.

Ah, heaps of time.

Now, it is three-and-a-half.

Just to put that in perspective:

  • The girls and I have three weekends left in Australia. This weekend, Fraser and I will be at BorderCon in Albury – so there are really only two weekends left before we go. And we want to have a party the week before we leave – so really only one weekend to pack things up.
  • I have a project to finish for a client. It involves writing a whole battery of PRINCE2 documents. That will be achievable.
  • I have another project to finish for another client. It involves lots more writing. That will be partially achievable, but I will probably have work to do when I get to Germany. The client is not happy with some of the work that I didn’t do, and has asked for me to work on that area. While her faith in me is touching and flattering, I am nervous that it might be misplaced.
  • I have two games to translate. The urgent part of one is half-done. I’m hoping to finish the urgent bits by the middle of the week.
  • I have all sorts of things to organise for our trip. More on this elsewhere. I need to stop overthinking the small stuff.
  • Mum and dad’s house has its first Open-For-Inspection on Thursday. I have not been there for a week. I need to find time to go there.
  • I still do not have a British passport. Nor do the girls have Australian passports (long story). Lots of chasing things up to happen on Monday morning.
  • Fraser and I need to get international drivers permits. We tried to do this on Saturday, but the RACV shop closes at 12 noon (where every other shop in the centre closes at 5pm).
  • I have to go to the luggage shop and ask if they can order the new model of Trunki for Otto. Failing that, I need to order one online. This is becoming urgent.
  • We need to organise parent-teacher meetings with the girls’ teachers. These would normally happen at the end of this term but they have been delayed to early next term.
  • Fraser and I need to move back to our “2 boxes a night” packing philosophy.
  • I need to do invoicing and tax. Urgently.