Technical challenges

I’m late with my post. I’m supposed to post every week on Sunday, remember?

Well, I was on vacation until Sunday and wanted to publish a really nice post (or two) about it, but for some reason I am unable to link to photos on Flickr tonight. So I’m declaring defeat for now and some basic text will have to suffice.

I’m not going to write about my vacation. I’m saving that for when I can actually put up some pretty photos to accompany it. But I will say it was a fairly local weekend trip that did a lot to recharge me. After I got back, I finally tackled a few things that I’ve been putting off for months.


Monday was also a day off for me. I went to an orthodontist for a consultation on fixing my crowded teeth. The dentist has been advising me for years to do something about this since it presents all sorts of challenges to keeping my teeth properly cleaned. I was happy to hear from the orthodontist that I may not need to go through any extractions to make my teeth better align.

Unnecessary extractions were my big hang up about orthodontia. I consulted an orthodontist in my early twenties who told me I’d have to get some teeth pulled first, so I never went back. (The cost — which wouldn’t have been covered by the meager dental insurance I had at the time — was another reason to stay away.) I needed to get the orthodontia consultation this week so I can make a decision and plan for it in my 2011 medical flexible spending account.

My mother once told me that I wouldn’t need orthodontia unless I was going to be a movie star or a model; instead it seems I’ll spend 15-18 months of looking like a geeky teen during my fifth decade of life.


Monday night I opened a Mint account to better track my expenses, savings, goals, and to build a budget. Too bad Mint doesn’t play well with the smaller accounts I have through a credit union and the one and only Visa account I have with a small, regional bank. This could complicate my ability to accurately look at spending trends and tweak my budget.

The credit union accounts are the first bank accounts I ever opened. The CU savings account was established for me as a child when bonds my grandfather bought for me as holiday gifts matured. When I was 17 I opened a checking account through the CU. I had been working for over a year and I wanted a way to write checks for things and not have to deal exclusively in cash. The CU was the only financial institution that would let me open a checking account at 17.

I almost closed these accounts last year since there are no branches near my home or work and it was a real pain trying to get to an ATM. Only one ATM is remotely accessible to me. (Really. I’ve checked all the websites and I know.) By remotely accessible I mean that it is several blocks from my office building downtown. The office out of which I rarely work, since I telecommute a lot these days. So depositing rent checks and getting out cash required me to plan days in advance.

Anyway, I decided not to close the accounts but to just move most of the money out of them into my online high interest savings accounts. (Where the interest rate is much better, believe it or not.) I still deposit a small amount into the CU checking account every pay period and look at this is my “hobby money” for the most part. When I head off to regional fiber festivals and yarn mill end sales, I bring along this checkbook to pay for any purchases I make. If the balance gets a little higher than I want to budget for my hobby, I transfer funds to my online account.

Mint doesn’t want to incorporate these CU accounts or the Visa card account I use for purchases where I don’t want to pay cash, but can’t use my Discover card. (I love the Discover cash back bonus every year!) I would feel just fine about exporting/importing the few transactions from these accounts, but Mint won’t allow that either. So I have to either figure out a way to hack Mint’s system for myself, or give up on using Mint. Oh, well. At least I finally got around to giving it a try.


There are still two things for me to tackle this week in order to get a full sense of accomplishment. I need to write a guest post for a blog, and I need to put my auto maintenance plan in order.

I really haven’t been keeping good records on when the car needs what done to it, so I’m not quite sure if I should authorize certain maintenance services when they are suggested. The dealer used to figure that all out for me when I took my car there for maintenance, but now that Saturn dealerships are gone for good, I’m missing this perk. (I also miss getting a free car wash and a carnation every time I had service done. Shucks.) All of my records are in a paper file, so I just have to sort them out and chart things against the recommendations in the owner’s handbook.

So there’s my week all laid out for me: more writing and more spreadsheets. I hope the technology gods consent to be kind so I can actually accomplish these goals. And if anyone out there is a Mint user and can suggest a way around my conundrum, I’d greatly appreciate any tips.


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