Pandemic Financials

I just closed my books for 2020. I use regular Excel with some smart formulas for my finances. Boris and I came up with these formulas many years ago, even before Excel. In the times of MS-DOS, there was one primitive program that could calculate some sums and averages, and that’s what we used. Now, for many years, I have one Excel file for each year, two tabs per month, plus the Totals tab.

I was curious to see how much did my budget change in comparison with 2019. To my surprise, the changes were minimal. Same as last year, my regular expenses were a little bit under the budget and irregular – a little bit over, but in the end, everything was in balance. Most of the averages were surprisingly close.

I spent way more money on groceries this year and less on entertainment, but surprisingly almost the same amount on clothes and extras. The latter proves that I like nice clothes not because I care about other people’s opinion, but because I like how I look in these clothes, even if I am at home alone.Christmas spendings were the same, and birthdays spendings were lower, because we decided to postpone all family birthdays celebrations till the time after.

One of my friends posted the link to this NYT article about the current economic situation, and it looks like it can be applied to me. The only kind of expenses which stand out are my huge medical bills from my three surgeries and multiple other medical procedures. 

Usually, when I start new Excel for the new year, I review my spending limits and financial goals and make some adjustments, but I didn’t feel I need it this year. It will be interesting to see in six months how things will turn out. 


Today, my day started in the middle of the night: there was a text message about suspicious activity on my Mastercard. And yes, they identified it correctly.

I use this card moderately and have very few scheduled payments on it, so I am surprised it got compromised. But I am getting more and more impress with how quickly any credit card fraud department can identify suspicious transactions.

I got a text at 2 AM, and email a couple of hours later. I promptly replied that these transactions are not mine, and they stopped the card immediately, issued me a new number immediately and shipped the new card.

Letting me know the new number is great, last time I had a compromised card, I had to wait for a new one to arrive physically. It took me just ten minutes to restore the normal order of events in my life. Just keeping telling everybody: online fraud is the best one, easiest to detect, and you won’t be charged anything extra

I Just Have to Say (a Rant)

Last year was a year of big and small changes, which I was mostly happy about. I am not talking about changes in my views, preceptions or any professional achievement; those were all changes in my everyday life. I changed my hairdresser, my nail spa, and my dentist, and also my tax preparer. The latter one was by personal recommendation, and I was very much satisfied with the outcome. 

Last year, I visited the tax preparer office in person. It was about 25 min drive one way, and we talked for about 30 min. And that was it. 

This year, since nothing except numbers have changed, I was hoping I can send him all my supporting documentation. Instead, I got a very thick envelope in the mail (it arrived when I was in Cyprus), and it contained a questionnaire I needed to fill, even if this is not the first time they are doing my taxes. I already spent two hours on it, and I am not done yet! I will be lucky if I will be able to mail it by Saturday. Honestly, I feel like I’ve already prepared my tax returns by myself 🙂