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October 13 - Vacation Day in SF

October 14th, 2018 at 10:49 am

October 13
$100 Segway Tour
$ 18 Parking SF
$ 5 Tolls
$ 70 Lunch
$ 20 Dinner
Dinner: OUT

MH owed me a raincheck, because he was working any time off I got this year. I mean, I think I took an unpaid week off in May and another week off during summer. Not sure if time off between jobs counted because I never ended up with any down time anyway. But had told MH at some point (May?) I really wanted to do a segway tour in Golden Gate Park. Just something fun to do. So we put a pin on that.

No idea how to pay for this out of the budget. Vacation fund has already been spent for the year. I mean, we have the cash. But just to say this wasn't particularly planned for. But given events of the last week this is now entirely moot. I will get to that in my next post. Short explanation: Will have some money windfall this month, and I will be working a TON.

We had already earmarked this day because though we were both pretty exhausted, the kids were going to be gone all weekend and it seemed a good of time as any. & now I know I am working non-stop for the rest of the month. Which was all the more reason to take a bit of a vacation day.

We started out in my favorite part of San Francisco (which is so easy to drive to also, no downtown madness) and we ate lunch at my favorite beachfront restaurant. (I just ate there with bff a few weeks ago). We were questioning this decision when we arrived around 1pm on Saturday and the usually infinite beach parking was total insanity. People double parking all over the place; we got trapped in the parking lot for quite a while because people were just sitting and waiting for spots to open up and no room to go around. I told MH I swore I'd been there on the weekend before and had never seen anything like this. Ugh! But we did find a spot near an exit and felt like maybe we could get out in less time than it took to get in.

The restaurant/brewery has a low cost lower level and an upscale upper level. Bff and I had decided to splurge on the upper level last time. On Saturday, the wait downstairs wasn't horrible but was wondering if it might take an hour to drive the 3 miles to our final destination, so we decided to go with the no-wait upscale restaurant upstairs. I told MH the food was really good; we had some money to splurge anyway.

We ate *very* well. We were feeling pretty pressed for time, but I looked outside and it looked like everyone had just disappeared. Tons of empty spots and no more crazy traffic jam on the main road. Phew! We had arrived in some sort of "what on earth have we gotten ourselves into?!" chaos and it was practically a ghost town when we left around 2:30. ???

We were so scared off of "insane mobs of people" that we took an exterior route to the Golden Gate park parking garage. (Google maps/Waze was showing me all sorts of slow traffic within the park). This cost us $18, but was probably worth it to ensure we got to our tour on time. Hindsight 20/20 we could have probably found free parking all day. All my usual hangouts have free parking, so this was the only place we paid for parking. $18 for a couple of hours.

We were pretty early, but by the time we found the meeting spot we were pretty much on time.

I've never ridden a segway before. It was somewhat terrifying. But it was fun and definitely a good place to do a tour like that. So many characters out and about, and I have never seen most of Golden Gate Park. But I think I was really wise to just sign up for the short tour to see if I even really like it. 3 hours would have been a lot! This tour was more like an hour. Was $50/each.

Afterwards there was some live music we stopped to enjoy. For maybe 5 minutes. We decided we should probably move our car and go find somewhere free (or at least reasonable) to park.

We headed over to the Sutro baths, which was close to where we started and is my absolute favorite area of the city. The old bath ruins, the beach, and then just lots of nature. We went for a nice hike in the area before heading home.

In the end, I had some initial doubts about what on earth we were doing there on a Saturday, but it ended up being a very pleasant day.

We stopped for some fast-ish food on the way home, and got home around 9pm.

Due to traffic, we went over the Golden Gate both ways. Which I prefer anyway (is a very pleasant drive, though a bit out of the way). We don't have our license plates yet so it was a free crossing. That is how we managed all that paying only $5 in tolls. We went over some other bridge that had no tolls (may also be electronic?) and then paid $5 at the last toll that we usually drive over on the way home.

We just went around all the traffic so didn't get stuck in any traffic.

Total fuel costs for this 225-mile trip? $13.61 (That's about $1 electricity, the rest is gas fuel. We averaged 45 mpg with the gas fuel).

That's good because we have to drive down to San Jose Monday to pick up DL. His flight arrives Monday afternoon.

October 12 - Childless Weekend

October 14th, 2018 at 10:14 am

October 12
$27 Fuel (hybrid car)
Dinner: chicken enchilada casserole

Friday was pretty uneventful.

I did need to make an unscheduled fuel stop because I was mostly out of gas after work trip. Though I don't need gas fuel to run the car, I believe it is important to have some gas in the car to keep everything working properly (uses the gas generator for some car function). I filled up all the way because we had two Bay Area trips planned in the next few days.

Thursday night we were going to go out to some event at the art museum. But we were both too exhausted. I was going to be supportive of MH, but was so relieved when he said he was too tired to go out. Phew!

The film production company he has been volunteering for was going to be showing some of their films and he wanted me to meet some of them, etc. Oh well...

By Friday we were definitely ready for a very quiet night. DL is still in Finland. MM(15) was whisked off to go camping in Tahoe for the weekend, with one of his friends.

No spending on Friday except for the fuel stop (which was really more of a work expense than a personal spending thing). I guess I'd consider it a no-spend day, in that regard.

Oh, and employer brought in lunch because most of us were out of the office Thursday and we had a computer system changeover (while we were out). Nothing was working Friday and everyone was freaking out. I personally didn't have much to changeover (boss didn't give me access to a lot of things before, knowing this change was pending) and bills/money (moi) was given first IT priority. So I wasn't freaking out too much. But I probably barely squeaked by without a lunch break and it works out because I was going to leave early on Monday anyway. I feel like I've already made up the time for that.

October 11 - Field Trip & Auto Reimbursements

October 14th, 2018 at 09:11 am

October 11
-0- Spending
Dinner: Tortellini with cream sauce

No spend day!

In the end we did a re-do of work field trip (was canceled prior week due to weather). Drove out to new home construction site about an hour out of town. Completely in the middle of nowhere.

One of the realtors took 10 of us out to lunch (our office + sales staff).

This is the tiny town:

As to the homes, WOW! Got to tour the models. It's a small home builder. Although we loved buying a new home when we bought our current home, and it was an exceptional deal (much cheaper than resale) given the circumstances at the time. We've been pretty "meh" on going that route again because it was a lot of work (lots of push back about every little thing, I know they HATED us because MH pushed back with every little change and whatever). Not sure I really want to go through that again. But more to the point, we've never owned real estate outside of a HOA and all the newer stuff is HOA.

In the end, this is something I will ask eventually and learn more, but my home builder employer seems to refuse to build with any HOAs. I guess my next question is how rare is it to establish a HOA later down the line.

So I don't know about the job (it's all good so far, but it is a very "economically dependent" kind of job, and who knows. Just being cautious as to the long term). I don't know how long the job will last, but I am really sold on buying one of their homes in the future. We may just do this again!

The home builder we bought from was very small and flexible, and this company is the same. To buy a custom home in our state would be infinitely expensive but these homes are really unique and they are willing to customize anything within reason. Which is some of what we did with our current home, but I think these floorplans are even better.

I told MH the little town was so cute, and the food was so good where we ate out, I might take him and the kids at some point for a weekend trip. I am curious what MH would think of some of the models and colors/styles of everything. We easily agree on about 99% of stuff, but home decor is like something we can never agree on. I am in love with some of the floors they had and I thought, "Probably MH will hate it." *sigh* So, first things first. Does he even like the layout?

In the end, everyone in my office had carseats (PITA to remove) and so I offered to drive. I will get a $45 auto reimbursement.

I spent about $7 on gas and will be reimbursed $45, so that is not a bad deal. Is not on the same scale as my last high miles job, but it works.

This reminds me... My first job out of college was all travel. I was putting around 25,000 work miles per year on my car. I had just bought a 10-year-old sports car (though very fuel efficient) for around $5,000. It only had 30k miles on the odometer? But the low price was due to the age of the car. I was earning around $1,000 per month in tax-free auto reimbursements, or about $12,000 per year. Seriously. Enough to replace my car several times over.

This is one of those things people have been really snotty (to me) over the years. Because they ASSUME. I've had people tell me they can't own such old and unreliable cars because they have to travel so much for work. *rollseyes* & look, it's been about 20 years since I have had this job. I have probably barely mentioned in my blog. If anyone on SA ever said this to me, whatever. I think it's a fair assumption. But when I was a couple of years out from that job, I was just always dumbfounded what people who barely knew me would assume. Because obviously I've never had a high miles job. ??? Why would anyone assume that? Because I drive old cars?

Anyway, so, this $45 reimbursement is not anywhere on that scale. But I am thinking that I may be able to completely offset *all* of my gas driving costs with work reimbursements, and that is pretty cool. I will take it!

20 years ago I had paid so little for the car in the first place that I was really able to leverage the reimbursements. In this case, I will be able to leverage somewhat my "super cheap fuel".

P.S. I have never in my life owned an "unreliable" car. I have owned some very old cars, but they were all perfectly reliable.

October 10 - Movie Night

October 14th, 2018 at 08:31 am

October 10
$ 12 movies
$ 36 Fuel (gas car)
Dinner: Chicken artichoke pasta

DL(13) skyped us again from Finland. They were able to see the Northern Lights their first night in Lapland.

MH and I went to a free movie screening. It was the "Hate U Give" movie. MH saw a rare super advanced screening of that one many months ago (probably not even the final cut) and said it was exceptional. But MM(15) didn't want to go two nights in a row. In the end, they chose to show it in a small theater. *sigh* It was pretty clear we'd be most likely stuck in the front rows (which I can't do). So we bailed at the last minute. MH had 3 movie tickets and he is still using Movie Pass. (He's been racking up free movie tickets because you can rack up theater rewards while seeing all the free movies with your movie pass, and I don't even remember the last time I went to the movies, it's been so busy).

We didn't wait to see for sure that we couldn't find seats because the cheapie theater was across the street from the theater we were at, and several movies were already starting. We just figured MH had already seen the movie and it was the kind of movie we would be willing to support financially and plan to take the kids to eventually. Let someone else see it for free in our place. We went across the street to see "A Star is Born".

Oh, but MH has a problem and wouldn't let me use the "free movie ticket" at the cheap theater. Save it for the expensive theater. Though he may have 3 more free tickets by the time I ever go to a pay-for movie again. *sigh* But that is my MH! So we paid $6 for my movie ticket (MH used his Movie Pass) and then $6 for a soda to go with the free popcorn. I hadn't really eaten a proper dinner and the smell of popcorn was getting to me while standing in line for free movie for like an hour. (That is always the catch with the free movies. First-come/first-serve; lots of waiting in line). I could not believe the cheapest drink was $6. Bottled water cost more, but needed something to wash down the popcorn. Next time I will bring a water bottle from home. Yeesh!

I think MH did the first fueling of the old gas car this month.

MM(15) took the PSAT at school today, for free. (His school just pays all of the fees).

That reminds me, I didn't even know that AP tests cost money. I saw some discussion about that during summer and I decided to ask school board friend about that. I didn't even know because it had been paid for last year. I didn't know if that was a school-wide decision or a district decision or what, so was going to ask friend who serves on the District Board. In the end, it came up in passing and MM(15) told me his school pays for all of the AP tests. (I guess I should have asked him!) One of his teachers also mentioned this during Back-to-School night this year.

October 9 - Lunch with Twin

October 14th, 2018 at 07:59 am

October 9
$ 8 New scanner/printer
$10 Lunch Out
$88 Groceries
Dinner: Taco Rice Salad

I got a new scanner/printer for side work. I had asked MH to research and maybe pick one up for me. I was running out of time so I believe he picked it up Tuesday and set it up for me Wednesday. I tested it out Thursday. Phew!

It only cost $8 out of pocket because I had a $100 Staples gift card (credit card reward).

This is a very nice upgrade from the 1990s era copier I had from my last period of self-employment. (Which was the cheapest copier I could find. Still works!)

OLD COPIER - No longer useful since it won't scan and I can only copy one page at a time.

I needed a scanner and a paper feeder, which apparently is very affordable these days.

I would also like to buy a nicer/heavy duty shredder. Is the one big perk I will miss from my old job (we had such a heavy duty shredder, I just took in a batch of personal stuff every month or so).

I was awaken by a skype call (from Finland) at 6:30am. Which was nice and lovely, but we generally try to leave the house at 6:40am. Ack! I took the alarm clock out of retirement. Don't think I really need it, but I definitely need the backup until we settle into new schedule. I initially thought maybe I was catching up from missed sleep during the time period when I left my last job. But on Wednesday night it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks, the exhaustion. I was able to wake up before my alarm clock on Friday. Maybe I will never know the reason I was extra tired. But Thursday I was so relieved when our plans out were canceled. It may just be emotional exhaustion from all the extra GO GO GO and socializing. Staying in, I didn't feel as exhausted, and my body was able to wake up on time.

Anyway, we hit all the lights green and miraculously made it to school/work on time, after late wake up on Tuesday. I didn't have time to think about packing lunch, so I invited "twin" to lunch. The 1/2 hour lunch isn't very satisfying with so much going on at old job, but it may be fine if we eventually settle into a weekly lunch date. I've generally always left one lunch out every week in my budget, for socializing, but work too far out and have a short 1/2 hour lunch, so it's only lunch with my friend who literally works right around the corner. I don't foresee ever meeting MH for lunch at this job, or anyone else.

In the evening MH and MM(15) went to a free movie (free advanced screening).

October 8 - Uneventful

October 14th, 2018 at 07:51 am

October 8
$4 Lunch Out
$10 Gymnastics
$27 Groceries
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie

Monday was a very uneventful day.

October 6 & 7 - Weekend

October 8th, 2018 at 06:05 pm

October 6
$ 3 Groceries (garlic bread for dinner)
$23 Fuel (Hybrid Car)
$25 Target ($5 Groceries + $20 towels)
Dinner: Spaghetti @ Parents' House

I had picked up a couple of $5 towels at Target the week prior and decided to stock up on a few more. I also did like 5 loads of laundry (so it felt like) and noticed our old cloth napkins were pretty sad, so picked up a few more of those. All that stuff was on sale, I just ordered online. The kids would probably appreciate some nicer towels (that aren't like 20 years old). I had been storing all the old towels under DL's sink in the kids' bathroom, but he keeps using them. I bought the new towels for the kids. While thinking about it, I may just move the old towels somewhere else. I have mostly empty space in the small pantry we have upstairs.

MH volunteered at the public TV station on Saturday. When he was done, we drove to the Bay Area. We saw my parents first and had dinner with them. After the Safeway nightmare a couple of weeks back, I told them we would pick up some garlic bread (in our city) to go with dinner. MH also filled up the electric/hybrid car with gas, while at the grocery store, with a gas coupon. We just filled it up all the way because we will be driving to the Bay Area 1-3 more times during the next couple of weeks. (Don't ask! It's just one of those months). Is our 'low cost of living' trade off, but I think I will be very happy with the low cost of fuel to get to/from, and is also probably why I am entertaining actually making all of these trips. If we were paying full price for gas, something may have to give.


October 7
$14 Lunch Out
$12 Diner Out
Dinner: Out

The reason we went to the Bay Area over the weekend, was to drop off DL(13) for his Finland trip with my in-laws.

Phew! I can't believe he went through with it. He's just been so moody, and before that was reluctant to go. I guess he is their problem (in-laws) for the next several days.

MH dropped them off at the airport around noon Sunday. Then we drove home around 1:00. No one was particularly hungry, so we stopped mid way for a light Taco Bell lunch. For dinner, we hadn't planned ahead at all. I ended up ordering a small pizza for MM(15) and I. I had a Round Table coupon, 10% off. I don't know if I have ever ordered a small pizza before. But I didn't think anyone else wanted any and was just going to get a personal size pizza. When MM said he'd like one too, I looked up the measurements and the costs. Was about the same size as two personal pizzas, but much cheaper to just get the small.

Though we have been eating out a ton, we are well within our budget. Mostly just a few dollars here and there. I'd like to meet up with "twin" for lunch this next week, but other than that I think it will be mostly leftovers for lunch and home cooking for dinner. Though we may treat MM for a dinner out if it's just the three of us. Our dollars will stretch a lot further if it's just the three of us, and will probably also have a lighter grocery week.

October 5

October 8th, 2018 at 05:55 pm

October 5
-0- No Spending
Dinner: Steak & Potatoes

This was my first full-time week at new job and first week with fast charger. My fuel (electric) costs for the week amounted to $5.

October 4 - Free Lunch

October 8th, 2018 at 05:53 pm

October 4
$52 Groceries
Dinner: Cheeseburger Pasta

MH did another grocery run. Can't say I've really talked to him all week. I am guessing he just didn't have time (to plan one big trip) and so broke it up into a couple of smaller trips this week.

For work, I was going to go on a bit of a field trip but it was canceled due to crazy weather. I work for a home builder now; we were going out to look at the construction process for some development that is probably close (location-wise) and where we can see construction in its various phases.

We actually bought our current home as new construction. I appreciate it because I have any idea what they are talking about half the time. It gives me some insight from the buyer side. & now I am learning more than I would ever want to know about the seller side.

In the end, I had planned to get like a $2 Taco Bell lunch on this day, because I wasn't really sure if we'd just stop to eat on the long drive back to the office. Because of the weather and everything, and some horrific accident on the freeway in the a.m. (delaying some employees by hours) they ordered in lunch and paid for it. I got the sense it was a rare thing.

I am feeling VERY at peace with everything. Was my third quiet night in a row?! I spent the last couple of evenings catching up on chores around the house. Phew! I was happy and I had lots of energy. This is my more normal mode, but I lost it somewhere along the way. (Well, normal mode is a lot more relaxation, but I will take, "Time and energy to tackle piles of neglected chores.")

I hesitate to even say it, but everything has calmed down since last weekend? A rare week of peace during this crazy crazy year.

I admit I didn't go to the old office at all this week. Didn't even hear from them at all? I stopped by the week prior and it was complete chaos. I think it was early-August when they pleaded with me to "wait two weeks" while they sorted things out with the lawyers. *sigh* Fast forward to last week of September, and absolutely nothing has been decided or resolved. New receptionist's father was in the hospital and she was beside herself and expecting she would need to take some time off. It's completely unreal over there (endless medical and family leave because of all the tragedy). Last I heard was that cancer employee was probably in late stage cancer (it had spread very aggressively to her lymph nodes already).

UPDATE: I've since been told that "useless employee" has officially resigned. Cancer has spread. Both my old employer's wife and "awesome admin" wanted to talk to me; they may want to fill me in more about what is going on with her.

October 3 - Crazy Weather!

October 5th, 2018 at 05:52 pm

October 3
$10 Gymnastics
$28 Groceries (Target)
$ 3 Groceries
Dinner: Salsa Verde Carnitas

I also made pumpkin bread this night (after promising MM many many times).

I had posted some old beach/sand toys on Craigslist (for free) and someone picked them up today.

The weather was completely crazy today! I was going to leave work a little early but the sky just opened up and the parking lot was becoming a river (right around the time I was going to leave)! UGH! I had gotten a flash flood warning at lunch (for the noon hour) which seemed pretty random because it was a beautiful/sunny day. Anyway, once the craziness passed, around 4:00pm, I took a deep breath and drove home. By some miracle, I made it all but the last 3 blocks home before I entered some other *crazy* storm. I think because the wind seemed to come out of nowhere, I was thinking "hurricane" type weather. Which is one of the first things MH or MM said to me when I got home; that it was some kind of unusual tropical storm or something like that.

So, I don't know how I got so lucky, but I had as pleasant of a drive as I could have. We had thunderstorms most the evening.

I don't remember exactly which date (or why) MH made the $3 grocery run.

MH also picked up some Target groceries while waiting for MM (gymnastics). Usually we buy things like granola bars and cat food/litter at Target.

October 2 - Lunch Out

October 5th, 2018 at 05:29 pm

October 2
$82 Groceries
$ 8 Lunch
Dinner: Zuppa Toscana (soup)

Total electric (car) fuel costs October 2: $1.02
(This was for 48 miles, or a very average day of new commute)

Did I mention that we have just been putting out fires left and right? MH didn't have time to go grocery shopping until Tuesday. (Would have generally gone over the weekend).

I didn't plan well at all and I went out for lunch. At my old office, it was a bad neighborhood and there really wasn't anywhere nearby to eat. The faster food places generally had very long waits, consistently burned food, and often ended up going out of business. I can see (looking back now) that I never had a lot of temptation on this front.

Today I hadn't planned well and I was starving around noon and remembered one of my favorite Delis was in the area. ("Twin" had told me this). The bad news? It's so close I can walk! Anyway, new work neighborhood is totally complete polar opposite. I am happy to say that the deli wasn't crowded at all around noon. Not sure how other places are, but today was the first day I really had the mental capacity to take note of my surroundings. (I've just been on such brain overload). Today I took the time to look around and see what stores and restaurants are in the area, on my drive in.

I did eat only half my sandwich and kept the rest for Wednesday. I doubt I will have the time to meet "twin" for lunch this week so maybe it works out. I'd like to start doing a weekly lunch date with her.

October 1

October 2nd, 2018 at 05:20 pm

October 1
$23 Target (Groceries)
$10 Gymnastics
$ 0 Movies (Free Screening)
Dinner: Pasta with chickpeas and garlic sauce

MM(15) is just now returning to gymnastics post broken toe.

We stopped by Target (right next to gymnastics) to pick up some face wash (for the teenager), some hair ties, and toilet paper. I always just throw this household type stuff in our "grocery" category. (I don't remember the last time I bought toilet paper, but we were dangerously low; MH couldn't get to Target until Wednesday. We were in the neighborhood, so I just put it on my errand list).

October Reset

October 2nd, 2018 at 05:52 am

I am doing a major financial reset with my pay cut. I'd say all but the last couple of years and our two-ish years of DINK living (Dual Income No Kids), other than those years we have always been uber frugal. I mean like I was saving 80% of my income out of college because I couldn't figure out how to afford the roof over my head otherwise. & we dropped our income in half to have kids, so just more of the same (though less extreme). On one hand, I would like to just coast this next 9 months or so and see what happens. Eventually I should be able to prove myself and be in a better negotiation position. If this job doesn't work out for any reason, the experience will also help me greatly with being able to increase my salary. Also, MH really wants to return to the full-time workforce, but we just want to give it another 9 months (when MM has a drivers license and both kids will be in high school). So I don't see any drastic budget changes or anything like that, but we definitely do need to rein it in.

We've mostly never increased our monthly budget and so I don't see making any changes on that front. (It's very "shoestring" in many regards). But what will probably be more apparent in my blog is sending my kids on less extravagant/expensive trips (unless grandparents are just willing to pay for everything) and probably cutting back on things like musicals and the Symphony (which we really only added in the last few months). Oh, and no more jetting off to Europe (which I have no desire or plans for). Having not had the means for these things for 90% of my life, I don't think it will be any big adjustment.

Will also probably go back to "saving minimum 10% to retirement" (from paychecks) and won't be adding to "taxable investments" for a while. I haven't done a monthly savings update because we have just been hoarding cash like crazy. But I will reset sidebar goals (they aren't realistic at all with 20% pay cut I've had since January 1. First I lost my overtime and then I took another 12% pay cut with this new job). Instead of saving 30% of my income, we will be lucky to save 10%. Which is my minimum. I would have accepted a lower paying job versus living on unemployment (a 75% pay cut), but I am happy to say this is a job I can live with long term. We save MH's income, so household savings will be around 20%. Not bad for a 20% pay cut. You can see why we aren't in a huge rush to raise his income. (We probably would be all else being equal, but still dealing with a very emotional teenager who probably isn't ready for that. It's all good. In 9 months I can change my work schedule to 7:00-3:30 and I think things will be set up pretty nicely for MH to focus on his career. I think I would have a heart attack if he had to start a new job right now too. I'd love some time to settle into my new job and to make sure it is the right job for me, before we experience more drastic changes. Also, MM should have his drivers license by then, which will help a ton, and is why I can then work crazy early).

I do always track our expenses, but I will track in my blog for October, for better accountability. In my mind, I am just considering it to be a spending reset.

MH already told me that the film production company he has been volunteering for is running some event at the art museum this month. As museum members, I believe we only have to pay $5/each to get in? $5 or $10. Stuff like that, we can easily afford. It's paying $50-$100 to attend one show that is on the back burner. Thankfully our art museum has some pretty amazing concerts (that cost pennies), and so does DL's school (lots of theater, musicals, and concerts).

Last week was a complete whirlwind. Monday did not start out any better. Work is completely crazed. (Though I felt I actually got somewhere Monday with a week of training behind me, working a full-time day, and actually being able to pin my boss down to answer some questions from last week. My To-Do list did not double yesterday, like it had seemed to every day the week prior. Phew! But it was hard to even take a break and my boss's wish list for this week was clearly completely absurd. He also was annoyed I stayed 15 minutes extra to wrap up what I was doing, so I am not too worried about it. They are very serious re: their 9-5 "go home and spend time with your family" culture). Other than that, just endless fires to put out on the home front. Less death and dying and horrible-ness. I appreciate that, for sure. But I am still exhausted. Hoping for some down time tonight.

Electricity Costs October 1

October 2nd, 2018 at 05:26 am

Yesterday I drove 66 electric miles. That was around 50 miles with my (new) commute and dropping off MM at school. The rest was city driving; running errands and dropping off MM at gymnastic class.

I could have done all electric regardless, but it was nice to have the fast charge in between. (If I got home from work and plugged in for a couple of hours on the slow charger, I would have barely squeaked by with enough miles for evening errands).

Total electric fuel costs October 1: $1.36
**corrected after original post**

Cost to drive gas guzzling minivan 66 miles: $11.06

Fuel Savings: $9.70

There is no doubt we would have pulled the trigger on replacing the minivan, regardless. Might not have necessarily done it before I started my job and didn't have to go so "new" and expensive. Didn't even have to switch to an electric car. (Our other gas car is twice as fuel efficient as the minivan was). I am guessing this is a lot of why we have talked about the replacing the gas guzzler for so many years but was never quite able to pull the trigger. We just haven't had the financial incentive to. But wow, look at that financial incentive now!

Fast Charger Installed

September 30th, 2018 at 05:13 pm

I think the fast charger arrived Tuesday night. We were able to get it installed today.

One nice thing is that it's not hard wired at all. We had to have the 240 volt outlet installed, to plug it into. But the charger itself, we can just plug it in. We can easily just unplug and take the charger with us if we move.

Total cost of charger:

$420 Charger (includes sales tax; 20% off at Costco)
+$325 Electrician/Installation
$745 TOTAL

Original estimate was $1,000, so I am more than happy with this. Chargers easily go for $500-$600. We also saved $50-ish because there was already some work done in our garage (by builder) for electric cars. It wasn't actually wired at all, but the hole was already cut in the wall.

I am roughly estimating fuel savings of $1,500 per year. So my hope would be to recoup the cost of the charger in just 6 months, or approximately $750 saved in 6 months.

One thing I'd look to do is buy a nice bracket/hook of some sort (& mount on wall) so the cord isn't draped over boxes on the ground. I was just thinking I didn't like that; when googling saw some pictures of some nice hooks. I will check with MH before I order anything, but might bring our total cost up $10 or $15. We can install a bracket or a hook.

The car was mostly charged already, so will see how long it takes to charge once I bring it home tomorrow. I will probably just plug it in when I get home and see how long it actually takes. After that, I need to get in the habit of setting the delay so that it charges after midnight (much cheaper electricity rates). There's just a button to push on the charger.

I can also set that up (delayed charging) in the car, but then I need to remember to set it back to "immediate charging" if we ever use a public charger. So it seems to make more sense just to get into the habit of setting the delayed charging on the home charger.

I don't see that we would ever use the slow charger again. The only exception was maybe if we could charge at our parents' homes, but they both told us pretty much, "Hell no," because of their high electricity rates. We kept hearing those charging cords get stolen out of cars and are $200-ish to replace, so we will store the slow charger inside our house where it can stay dry and clean.

It's unbelievable that is it October tomorrow! It's been like 100F degrees here. We haven't even turned off the A/C. Ugh.

Anyway, my plan for October is to start tracking (car) fuel costs in earnest.

P.S. We also did a little decluttering today. Our neighbor had told us recently that our garage was "immaculate". Ha! That is a bit of an exaggeration. He just means we can fit our cars in our garage and don't have lots of crap. But anyway, we threw away some trash today and found some stuff to freecycle. A lot of it I am just going to throw in the donation pile. If anyone wants it, great. If not, they can toss it. I've got an old skateboard, an old elmo sprinkler and a couple of water guns. & a scooter. It's all very old and junky.

Free Car Charging

September 27th, 2018 at 08:58 pm

It was crazy stupid how easy the "free car charge" was in the end. But admittedly, MH downloaded the app and set up the account. I told him just to put his login on my phone, since I was just going to be trying it out (later this week). For the long run, I should probably get my own account. Though maybe the one account is fine with the one car. If only one of us will be charging the phone at any given time.

I think the difficult part of it all is finding good information. We thought for some reason there may be 1 or 2 chargers (per the app?), but in the end there were 6 chargers that were compatible with our car. This was in the cheapie garage we just happened to be parking at last night for the film festival we went to. (We'd park there regardless). We saw some other chargers on the way out but not sure what kind they were.

So we were happy to find that there were plenty of chargers.

Literally all I had to do was wave my phone in front of the charger. That's it. Didn't have to log into the app or do anything. I guess my phone had to be "on".

You wave your phone in front of the charger and it unlocks the charger for you:

So we plugged it in and went on our way:

These were the screen shots I took of the app (you can monitor progress from your phone).

Took this screen shot once we got settled in the theater, about 30 minutes later:

Took this screenshot at the end:

I suppose we are still paying (old) summer rates, so we are paying 13 cents per kWh, at home. 14.50 kWh x $0.13 = $1.89. So the free charge saved us $1.89.

Today was the first day I didn't stop anywhere on the way to/from work. (Not entirely true because I felt so terrible this morning, with the late night and maybe feeling a bit under the weather, I stopped for a soda. & I had no idea where to stop, so I may have driven 0.50-1.0 miles out of the way). But other than that, it was a pretty typical commute day for me. I dropped off MM(15) at school at 7am and then drove 22 miles to work. I suppose I can try again next week. I am not sure why it says 49.2 miles driven today. But this was the most true capture I've gotten of my commute, so will go with this for now.

These were the car stats once I returned home:

My drive to work today was totally free! The fuel part of it, anyway. I'd say we also had enough free charge to drive home last night.

It would be more electricity efficient if I drove in more traffic (because the brakes generate more electricity). This is an open freeway drive (all freeway/reverse commute).

I have about 2 gallons of gas in the gas tank. I don't think I have anything planned the next few days and so we probably don't have to rely at all on gas before we get our fast charger (at home). Will cross my fingers. Will probably just stick with the 2 gallons until we plan to drive out of town. We really plan to never really use gas around town once we have the benefit of the fast charger. Will charge about 5 times as fast. So we will have more time to re-fuel the electricity between drives.

It will be interesting to see how October shakes out. We will have fast charger + cheap winter electricity rates ($0.08 per kWh). Not only are the winter rates much cheaper, but we also get a discount on our overnight electricity usage because we notified our utility company that we are charging an electric car.

Checking In

September 27th, 2018 at 05:53 am

New job is going *great* so far.

Life is still a whirlwind. I am really hoping things settle down next week.

MH had to go in 2 days for jury duty (UGH) but was excused. Was going to be a long-ish trial and the judge's schedule was crazy (off Fridays and leaving early half the week?) Which would have probably made everything more doable, BUT between this judge's schedule and DL's schedule (gets off school a different time every day) it would have driven me batty! I am glad I don't have to figure all that out. Phew!

Fast car charger finally showed up, so we will try to get it installed this weekend.

Tuesday I went by the old office. Ran into *awesome admin* who volunteered her time *all day*! (LONG STORY)

I need a new nickname for the three of us (awesome admin, twin, and I). The old work gang. I met them for dinner that night and we hung out for almost 4 hours. I am guessing we should try to make this a monthly thing until things settle down. We had discussed making sure to get together quarterly for girls' nights out.

Awesome Admin's new job is BAD! In the end, she quit yesterday. Another "layoff" for all intents and purposes. Her employer is clearly an idiot. (You would be hard pressed to find a better employee).

I am really trying to maintain *amazing* friendships from old job, but it is a lot. I just went with it the past three weeks, but not sure how it will all sort out in the end. I can't do all this "crazy busy" indefinitely.

Last night MH and I went to a movie festival. Had a blast. Fell asleep towards the end and not sure MH was thrilled I didn't want to stay until the bitter end. But WAY past my bed time and we have literally been leaving our kids every night to go out. Old work gang thought I Was being hard on myself, but to go from "parents present most of the time" to "out late every night"... It's been a lot.

Anyway, yesterday was crazy (like every day) and I decided to text "awesome admin" about her day (and if she still had a job) when I had a few minutes before movies started. She was actually freaking out a bit, so I told her I'd call her during intermission. Could barely hear her, but was probably fine because she just wanted to vent. I am going to call her today. She may want to meet up.

Oh, and the government job I applied for called me yesterday. I will call back to see what's up. Hoping I can just stay in eligibility pool for the future. For now, definitely hoping I already found my next long-term job.

We were downtown last night for the film festival. We found a garage with free electric charging. They actually had about 6 chargers? Saved us $2 in electricity. My commute today will be free. (It was the cheap garage we'd park at regardless). I will blog more about this later. I know saving $1 or $2 might not sound like much, but I got enough charge to drive my 44 mile roundtrip commute today (and to get home last night, and then some). I am saving about $7.50 per day (fuel for commute), having switched from a minivan to an electric car.

I want to post more about job and car logistics. Maybe this weekend I will have some time.

Back to Work

September 24th, 2018 at 05:53 am

Well, the last two weeks were a complete whirlwind.

I think I’ve got everything reset (paperwork/house/emails) to where it’s not crazy overwhelming. But could definitely use some more time to organize and to do a better reset. I really only put a few hours into that. Bare minimum. But I tend to be organized and on top of things. So though it felt very overwhelming to get behind, it wasn’t as bad as I envisioned.

Best I can tell, the only thing that slipped through the cracks all year was I forgot to pay auto insurance due 9/1. I usually pay when I get the bill, but sometimes delay for a credit card reward or something like that. I must have delayed and forgotten. Or just forgot? & I did also have a reminder in Quicken, but I was too busy and didn’t pay any attention to that. There was no consequence. I got a reminder after it was due and paid it without any late fees. They had a 2 or 3 week grace period.

I was confusing weeks. Thankfully, jury duty and kids appointments are *this* week. I was thinking *everything* was last week; that would have been way too crazy.

I am not really superstitious, but I can see why people believe in curses and jinks. I swear my life has been entirely sunshine and roses since my last day of work. To the point I didn’t even end up going by this past week. I did get my final paycheck mailed to me (two weeks late). I had planned an errand near the office Friday and thought I would also pick up my paycheck and see if “workaholic” needed help with anything (he does). But in the end my errand was far enough away I just couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t want to even go near that place. Was for the best. “Twin” later texted me that she was at the old office helping “workaholic” with stuff I usually did. I was so happy and relieved to hear that. Everyone always relies on me for everything, and it was nice to be off the hook.

"Twin" also told me some big wigs showed up this past week to discuss hiring people, etc. I am skeptical because I don’t see a single job posting. So I was briefly buoyed by the news, but not for too long before I decided it was total BS. I hope at the least they transfer “workaholic” to another office or something. I really and truly worry about him. More than anyone. My old employer’s life is total and complete hell at the moment, but they seem to be handling it better. They have a backup plan. It’s “workaholic” that is totally screwed by this situation. & don’t get me wrong, maybe he could downsize his home or decrease his lifestyle somewhat. This is clearly a hell of his own making.

My life was sunshine and roses, until Friday at 5pm. That is when MH learned he is being called to jury duty Monday. At my first day of new job. Of course! DL gets out of school at like 11am. I had an appointment in the afternoon but the library is closed (where MM would wait for me if I needed some time). So that’s my total Monday from hell. New employer seems super flexible and I did warn them about the jury duty and is some of why they agreed to let me start part-time this week. Phew! The rest of the week, I will be running around like crazy, but should not affect my part-time work schedule. If MH does get tied up with jury duty. Though he *wants* jury duty, generally, his employer is actually totally freaking out because a long-term employee just quit (last day Friday). So I do think MH will try to get out of it. Between the two of us *freaking out*. I’d be a little less panicky if we didn’t have to find out Friday night. More time to plan and prep for these things, I can better deal with. (In the end, DL is going to a friend's house after school so that I can work more than 2 hours on my first day. I do have to go in later than planned).

Our car charger (ordered from Costco) seems to be lost in space, so that’s on hold.

The car electric range adapts to your driving habits. It started charging faster and going up to a 57 mile range. (It’s rated 53 miles, and I was concerned it only went up to “50” on first charge. So imagine my surprise when it said “57” when I got into the car Saturday). I am hearing that 75 range is not uncommon. I am guessing that 57 is probably about as good as it gets for us, because we generally don’t drive in traffic.

I think we were able to keep our driving 100% electric since my drive to San Francisco mid-week. Today I will track the actual costs of my commute and start getting a feel for that. In addition, we will be getting free charges twice this week.

P.S. See last post for an Indian recipe.

Indian Recipe

September 24th, 2018 at 05:23 am

When MH was at the Indian grocery store the other day, the clerk gave him this recipe. MM(15) wanted to make it for lunch. I only had a bite, but *wow*, I don't know if we have ever made such an authentic Indian recipe before. (Beware: It's spicey!)

Egg Bhurgi Recipe

3 Eggs
2 Tbs Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Large Onion, finely chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, chopped
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala
3/4 tsp Cayenne Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 cup Chopped Cilantro, divided

Beat eggs in a bowl.

Heat oil in pan, add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add onions & serrano peppers and fry until golden.

Add ginger and garlic. Fry till you get a nice aroma.

Pour in the eggs and scramble lightly. Stir constantly to prevent burning.

Add garam masala, chili powder and half of cilantro. Stir well, salt as needed.

Garnish with remaining cilantro.

Serve with rice or bread (or tortillas?)


In other randomness, my 13yo randomly asked me for help making eggs "sunny side up", on Saturday? He made them, but was asking me if I thought they were done. HA! I had no idea. I know how to scramble eggs? I think DL(13) was pleased with his cooking skills. As the younger child, I think usually he just lets everyone do things for him. MM would plan and prepare a 5-course meal. In contrast, DL would whine if I told him he could make his own mac and cheese. So it was nice to see him being so adventurous in the kitchen.

He's on an egg kick, so I taught him how to hard boil yesterday. So that the shell comes off very easily.

New Car Fuel Updates

September 18th, 2018 at 09:29 am

This week is shaping up to be pretty quiet. I had a few social things I was trying to plan, but everyone is being super flakey. Working folk!

Today my plan is to nap in the morning and then will start hitting chores. I think just one or two days of that (chores) and I will start to feel a lot better. If I can feel like I am starting to move more forward than backwards...

Still figuring out new car and probably will make October 1 more of a starting point for really tracking costs.

Our electric company is in the process of shifting to different rates for peak times. We get to jump ahead to this new schedule with the electric car purchase (and will also get a discount for overnight electricity use). So of course I signed up the day we got the car.

In the end, we looked more carefully at the schedule. Winter prices are mostly going down. We will have to change our habits a little bit though and avoid 5pm - 8pm during the week. Off the top of my head, that maybe went up a cent or two (per Kwh) during winter.

Summer? Ugh. Electric rates more than doubled for 5pm-8pm. MH was just asking me if we were paying that now. Kind of told him, don't know, don't care. Have to power the car. It's just one more week until we can switch that to quick overnight charging? But he's kind of, "It's more than just the car. Laundry? Dishes?" Fair enough. So while he was asking me and I was looking something or other up on electric bill, I just decided to call. In the end, just more good luck on our part. We get to keep old/cheap summer rates through the end of this month. We switch to winter rates AND cheaper overnight rates starting when our bill closes, around October 1st.

Anyway, I put the new electricity schedule up on the fridge. Will have to be more mindful of peak times. I think that is easy enough for us to work around.

In the meantime, everything is just kind of chaos. We already drove new car 520 miles. Since Thursday 8pm. What in the heck!? We did drive 280-ish miles to/from the Bay Area. It was a 60 mile drive from the dealership. Everything else was more than usual. We probably both have mostly been driving new car. I did drive to my new work city and took MM to the animal shelter (both around 21 miles each way).

I'd say this week should be way more calm, but MH has stuff going on every night. Will see how that ends up.

Today I used 3 miles electric range to take MM to school. (It's 5 miles?) MH will be driving one round trip 6 miles, unless he gets off work early (probably) and has to go back to get kids later. He told me his free movie tonight is the movie theater in our neighborhood, so that may be another 6-ish miles. All electric for today.

Tomorrow we might be able to squeeze out all electric. We are going to the movies a little further away, but might be able to start with a full battery if we don't drain it more today.

Thursday is chaos. MH has a bit of a drive for paid medical study. I *just* got an e-mail from SF bff and I guess I never got back to her. Oops! Our plans are Thursday. She was waiting for me to reply. I will probably go visit her and then spend some time with my parents. Lots of driving. (Driving to the Bay Area twice in one week is not unusual at all for us, and where we hope to see some real fuel savings).

After Thursday, I think we might be able to keep it all electric? Through the weekend?

We have 60-ish miles of gas left in the car. I will try to remember to take note of mileage when we fill up. Dealership gave us a full tank of gas, to start.

How did weekend driving go?

Didn't get so much fuel efficiency on the long drive. MH was being such a backseat driver. Gah. It was the first time we had long enough to fully charge between trips. So we started with a full 53 mile electric range. I believe the car said 50 miles, and I wondered if we had been dumb to not see the full charge before we bought it. I kept it in electric mode during all the traffic we hit, and whenever we were on city streets. Not a lot of traffic or lights, but the range just kept going up more and more. I later read that 75 miles is pretty common/easy. I think in the end we ended up getting 57 miles, adding 7 miles for passing through a few bottlenecks on the freeway. (The braking generates more electricity).

I guess the car does easily get 50mpg (on gas) on the open freeway, but we had never particularly seen this advertised. They advertise the combined freeway/city rating of 43mpg. We did go over some hills. That was when MH was driving me nuts with his backseat driving.

I had it on gas mode on the hills (which was maybe a mistake) but it was *amazing*. It gets a little electric boost and that was actually pretty awesome. I usually drive pretty slow on the big hills, not wanting to gun the engine too much.

I think that trip ended up being closer to 42mpg on the fuel side. I think we can survive with that.

This display shows our trip stats. I finally looked up what MPGe was. Wasn't entirely sure. In the end, the way it works is that 33.7 Kwh is considered to be equivalent to one gallon of gas. So it figures the electric mpg and the fuel mpg, and combines it together (combined MPGe is on the left). This is by far *not* the most fuel efficient the car has been, but that's just how it worked out on our big trip. We did try to conserve all the electric charge for the traffic and city driving.

For reference, I believe our winter rates will be around $3 for 33.7 Kwh, or the equivalent of purchasing a gallon of gas. So the MPGe figures can be converted to fuel prices for a rough idea of what we are paying/saving. I am really going to track energy savings closely starting October 1 when it will be easier and more logical to track all of this.

Edited to add: I looked at winter (overnight) rate and it was cheaper than I remembered. $0.0819 per Kwh. That means it (will) cost us $1.12 to drive 53.2 miles, starting October 1 (winter rates). & again, we can improve on that electric mile range if we drive very efficiently and driving conditions are favorable to the electric engine. It will be interesting to see how my commute shakes out (real world MPGe). I am starting to think that we can quickly recoup the cost of installing a charger in our garage. If my "twice as long commute" only costs $1 per day. Maybe just 6 months to recoup the charger install in our garage?

Here is the beauty:

The Worm Has Turned (& Sold Van)

September 17th, 2018 at 09:47 pm

I don't know that I did much Monday, but I did get the van sold. Yay! (Thanks to a tip from SA! But I will get to that at the end of my post).

The weekend went really well. I feel like my luck did a complete 180 over the weekend (if not a little sooner).

The Beach Boys concert was a blast. My dad wanted to go (and probably no one else really wanted to) so MH sat it out. I told my dad if he drove, the ticket was his. Really neat venue called the Mountain Winery. Thankfully, the kids enjoyed it. In fact, they were upset we left early. As is, we got home at 1:00 am. I decided it was prudent to beat the crowd on the way out.

My sorta-niece is getting married! I am excited about that. (More happy news!)

I won a $25 Ting credit today. Woohoo!

On Sunday we met up with MH's parents for lunch and then my parents for dinner. In the end, we just winged it at my parent's house. They had some hamburger and we said we would go to the corner store to get hamburger buns. No luck, so we went to Safeway aka the grocery store from hell. As we waited in some crazy insane line to checkout, I told MH, "I would say that I don't miss the Bay Area at all..." It would be easy to presume that this was the result of crazy dense population. But, the truth is our Safeway is the same way. I have no idea why anyone shops there. We stopped shopping there several years ago because it got to be too expensive. We sometimes, once in a blue moon, went there to pick up something or other, but stopped doing that once the lines got totally insane.

Anyway, we chose a line with people who mostly just had a few items. Some employee from the Floral department pulled us out of line and checked us out. I have *no idea* why. We basically ended up cutting ahead of like 100 people (or so it feels like!) It was at this point I feel like I was experiencing some cosmic shift with the universe.

Monday I cleaned out the van. I was out in the front of the house vacuuming it and taking stuff out of it, when MH came out and ended up talking to the neighbors for like 1/2 hour or more. So MH tells me, "Um, neighbor said every home in this development is wired for electric cars." What in the heck!? We bought new construction in 2001. Though I remember a lot of the sales pitch/sales material, I am pretty sure I never heard this. Ever. In fact, we already had an electrician come out and give us a quote. But our big old giant recycle bin was blocking the receptacle and we had no freaking clue!

I have no idea what that means. We tracked it down, but not sure how forward thinking home builder was in 2001. It does look like the wiring is there, but that's about it. (For a minute, we thought maybe there'd already be an outlet! No such luck).

We have another electrician coming out eventually, so maybe we can get a more accurate quote from this one. You know, with the whole, "This wiring was already done and there is a receptacle of some sort already there" thing. It's right by where we were going to put the charger (because it's right by the breaker box and made the most logical sense; probably why the home builder put it there).

Vehicle Sale:

We always keep our vehicles until they are completely run into the ground and/or they are just worthless because they are old and have so many miles. The only exception is when I sold my sports car when I had kids. It was an older model, but immaculate and very low miles. I remember calling around to some of the used car dealer and being offered pennies for it. NO WAY! We sold that car private party for $3,000. The rest of our cars, we donated when they stopped running altogether, or we just traded-in because $500 from dealer was close enough to what we'd get with the hassle of private party selling. KBB is usually around $500 when we sell.

The van? Ugh. We had originally planned to private sale for around $2,000. I mean, depends when we got around to selling it, but private party sale seemed to be the best route in this case, if we did sell it now. Which is what we did (sell it now), but it needs a $800 repair and probably $2,000-ish of body work. We may be able to easily private sale as like a mechanic's special, because overall it is still a nice vehicle. But I just have no idea what we can get for it, and I'd have to get an inspection first, etc. There is also a lot of hassle involved with that and I have a million other things to do. (If I knew I could get $2k, worth the hassle. If I am not sure I can get more than $500? Meh).

If we had bought a local car we may have just traded it in, but didn't really want to drive it 60 miles for a car purchase that was most likely not going to happen.

Then I found the magic solution. I saw on SA the tip to get your car appraised at CarMax and then some(?) dealerships have guaranteed to match that? I decided that we could probably get about $300 scrap for the van and probably could have gotten $500 from the dealer trade-in. So I figured, it wouldn't hurt to try Carmax. If they came back at $250 or something like that, would rather just scrap it. If they came in at $500 I'd be happy with that. If they came in higher, then holy cow why have I not heard of this before?

When googling more about Carmax (wasn't sure initially if they bought such old vehicles) I saw the tip to negotiate on the appraisal value. So, we made an appointment at 7:30pm Monday.

We showed up at 7:30pm and they did a once over. Actually, they called me in the a.m. to confirm appointment and asked some questions. I was very clear about body damage because just want to be as up front as possible. They really could care less about that, which made this so ideal for selling this vehicle. So then you get there and they do a quick once over to be sure they even want to bother with you. I spent about 1-2 hours cleaning the car today because they said in confirmation e-mail and on their website they would pay more if it is in nicer/cleaner condition. I wasn't going to waste any money getting it detailed, and I wasn't going to spend all day on it. But I did clean it up a wee bit.

So anyway, they do the once over. They are interested in the car, so then they take it for a test drive and do a 1/2 hour inspection.

After that they offered us $1,000. NO WAY! I am so grateful for the tip because I highly doubt any used car lot was going to offer us much of anything if we weren't going to buy a car from them. Thinking to my last experience.

This probably means we could have done better selling private party, but I am happy that it's done and I have crossed the biggest chore off of my list.

We tried to negotiate a little more and honestly they seemed open to it. But they pulled up KBB and were kind of like, "Yeah, we are offering double trade-in value. That's all we can really do." Fair enough. Just sharing for one of those, "It never hurts to ask" reminders.

One hour after we got there, we walked out with $1,000 check. So happy to cross that chore off my list!

I am going to apply these funds to the electric car charger. MH ordered one for $420 from Costco (20% off). We should get it in about a week. We have one electrician quote for $350. & I am now thinking we might be able to get that cost down significantly? Anything left over I will put back into savings.

Car Updates

September 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I've personally never had a pristine vehicle. When I bought the minivan (1-year-new/excellent condition) it was hit the day after I bought it (hit and run, while parked). The damage was cosmetic only and so we chose to never repair it. My first car had been hit more times than I remember. Anyway, over time, I just embraced it. It's hard to feel much motivation towards something really pretty and nice (and expensive), when it's out in the world getting beat up anyway. Kind of funny now that I think about it. The van came into my life and went out with a bang. In contrast, MH's cars are never in accidents and have never had so much as a scratch.

To say I am a little nervous, is an under-statement. This vehicle replaces "my" car, even if it's all been very 50/50 since we have had kids.

In the end, when I asked for some pre-buying insurance quotes, insurance agent sent over some quotes with really low deductibles. Not sure why, because we have the largest deductible possible on everything. But in the end, it was so cheap that I decided to just go with it. I don't want to be worrying about spending another $1,000+ on a cosmetic repair if someone slams into my new car tomorrow. Was something like $150/$250 deductibles. I will just go with that for a while and then we can re-evaluate in 6-12 months.

I actually drove our older car to "new employer city" Friday to drop off my employment paperwork. Met "twin" briefly but she was slammed with her job. I had made more plans to have a very long/late lunch with her, and then kill some time before an afternoon meeting. Instead, I drove home in between. Car was making such bad noises that I took the Volt for trip #2. (Didn't really want to drive it in Friday traffic, but it ended up being okay). It's very counter-intuitive because the more city driving you do and the more you brake the more fuel efficiency you get (both gas and electric). I had enough electric charge to get there, but drove gas on the way home. I was dumbfounded that we still seem to be getting 50mpg. We really thought we would buy this car for shorter trips and then use the other one for longer trips. I am now thinking this is the car for any trip.

We have a long trip today! So, will see how that goes. It will be a good test, because we do drive out of town so much to see our family.

Oh, and that 50mpg was with, "No idea what we are doing" driving. After Friday? I had to drive MM(15) to the animal shelter yesterday (volunteer shift). Had enough electricity just to get there. I realized I should hold some electric charge for the few traffic lights between the freeway in our house (return trip). So I did do that. I guess that's the strategy at this point. I am sure we still have much to learn.

We did take out "electric car buff" friend for dinner last night, to pick his brain a bit. We knew he'd want to see it too. One of the most useful tips he told us was to only buy a gallon or two of gas at a time, unless you know you are going out of town. Otherwise the gas can get stale.

Oh, and we can save $250-ish buying a fast charger at Costco. We may do that today (with one of our parent's memberships). We are probably going to be moving quick on that (versus my initial presumption that there would be no rush). The reason is we will get much lower electric rates if we can limit charging between midnight and 6am. Also, the slow charge is supposed to be 12 hours but we are finding it is more like 20 hours (to full charge). It may be we can increase it a bit, but my dad (who has a lot of electrical knowledge) was away and unreachable. We have such a new home (modern wiring) I didn't think it would really matter, but he told me yesterday he would not increase the charging speed without consulting an electrician. It's a question we will ask tomorrow, we have one coming out for a quote. It may just be my dad is being cautious, since everyone is kind of, "It should only take 12 hours". There is a setting we didn't change in the car, for faster charging with a regular outlet, because it had a scary warning.

As to electric car buff, I think he is a lot of the reason we ended up going the "electric car" route. My visceral reaction was more definitely, "No way." But the more he talked about it, the more he swayed us. He initially had a lease for an all electric car that cost pennies. At that time it was his only car, but he had free parking at his job downtown, in turn. Which entirely paid for the lease (which was heavily subsidized with tax credits and so on). Then he also didn't have fuel expenses. He was just kind of, "You have two cars? Do you REALLY need two cars that can drive 300 miles?" Honestly and truly? No. So I think at that point in time there was some realization that an electric car would be very practical for MH's mostly 6-mile round trips, all city driving. If he could have convinced us sooner, honestly we probably could have leased for $100/month (where we live). It took me too long (years) to decide that was kind of "almost too good to be true." But by then, those deals were long gone. Other than that, I'd say we are very range picky, because we do spend so much time driving to see family/friends around 120 miles away. But I do also realize that we never in a million years would need two cars to do that. (& in the rare instance it does happen, it's not like there aren't any other options).

I think one thing I also like is this whole idea of skipping the chore of getting gas. I really try to limit how much time I spend on errands and the such. & that was also another thing that really appealed about going electric (if you can just charge mostly at home; maybe also wherever you happen to be).

Anyway, this is one reason I want to share so much of the process as we dive in. If anyone can get anything at all out of me sharing information they maybe never considered.

In other randomness, MH fount out yesterday he can play movies in the car, like on the main display. He was totally freaking out with excitement. It's actually kind of funny because I told him I just left the car on the entire time I waited for MM at the animal shelter yesterday (2 hours) and MH was completely horrified. Not sure the thought would have occurred to me otherwise, but was thought to TABS and his car-living experience. I will say that will be *so nice* during our hot summers when I can just sit in the car with the A/C. It just hit me that it's not the same as idling a regular car for two hours. Absolutely nothing like that! Best I can tell, I lost one mile of driving charge. Anyway, in the end, I think MH Will follow my lead. You can't watch the movies while the car is out of park, but point is that we sit around a lot waiting for kids. So yeah, I think MH changed his tune already on that front.

We haven't done very well finding free or very low cost places to charge the car. It will take some research. But MH found a free charger right by the animal shelter. WOW! Before I took new job, that was our "big" drive. Is about 21 miles each way, and feels crazy far away. We believe we can get free electricity one way, every trip, if I can just sit and charge at this charger for 2 hours. The vast majority of the time, I just sit in the car and wait for anyway. Is just hard to do that in the middle of summer. Then I end up running errands (for the A/C!) and usually spending more money. So I am guessing this is money saved in multiple ways. We are going to check it out next time.

I don't remember how or why this even came up, but I am probably going to get the windows tinted next week. Maybe saw some car post online or something. It sounds like it will be $150-ish to do the back windows (which is all we can do legally) at a place near my old job with all 5-star reviews. I may just go over there Friday morning and then pick up my paycheck on the way home. (It's payday and is when I expect to get my final check). This car would look so nice with tinted windows, but is also would be very practical in our very hot summers. I think MH thinks I have lost my mind, but he is sensitive to the sun and I think that he will thank me when all is said and done. I just think it would be a really nice and affordable finishing touch.

Oh, and I may have found a $500 rebate for car purchase. I added that to my list of things to do when we get the plates and registration.

I will definitely be tracking and blogging about actual fuel/electricity costs. The bar to beat is set pretty low at this point because we replaced a gas guzzling minivan. The goal is to lower our fuel costs (gas & electricity) with the doubling of my work commute.

Gift Card Spending

September 16th, 2018 at 05:46 am

Saturday was the first quiet day I have had in what feels like "forever". I am did some house chores, but very minimal. Made a salmon dinner. Did Laundry. Cleaned one toilet bowl and vacuumed the bathroom floor upstairs (hair everywhere). Our house looks like a pig sty and I mostly don't know where anything is (or so it feels like), but I am hoping I have time next week to sort things out.

I think I am finally over this virus. Hence, the energy for chores.

Next week: Car #2 to mechanic, sell van, consult lawyer (or make appointment to). Trying to make plans with SF friend and one client/friend. MH has jury duty and so I may end up covering kids. Kids have all sorts of appointments, in addition school. I am sure I am forgetting things. MM(15) is going back for next phase of medical study. He will be paid $200-ish, but we both have lots of paperwork to fill out.

I was just thinking today, we have some prep to do for Finland trip. Need to do notarized permission to leave country without us (to be on the safe side). Guess I will pencil that in for next week too. *sigh*

I do not foresee much relaxing during this short time off, but I am guessing I should just be grateful that I should have time to deal with all of the above. We always try so hard to lead more calm and peaceful lives, I know that is a lot of why I feel so overwhelmed this year. I am failing spectacularly this year, but am hopeful that things will calm down in the next couple of weeks.

I really thought I had been paranoid or imagining it, but I drove car #2 about 45 miles on Friday and the engine was making some bad sounds. This means that literally Monday both our cars broke, on my first day of unemployment. Crazy Murphy! With two cars, don't remember that ever happening before? But admittedly, both are drive-able; it could be much worse.

Knock on wood, but it's been a few days since I have gotten horrible horrible news. So that is really nice.

I was so happy to see Banker Gurl's news! It's not just my real life world... It's just been very heavy this year on SA, hasn't it? It's nice to hear such amazing happy news!

We are getting through some of our (credit card reward) gift cards. MH decided to pick up a ladder today. I had picked up $200 in Home Depot gift cards to that end, but he just hadn't gotten around to it. We really needed a taller ladder. He wanted to pick up while we still had the van. In the end, it was folded up so much I'd say it didn't matter. But, I am happy to have another chore crossed off the honey do list.

I also asked MH at some point how much a copier/scanner would cost. I was just curious re: side work I might pick up. Fast forward to now, and I know they are cheap enough that I think it's good to have one for personal use. It's one thing to know your *forever employer* doesn't care that you use all their stuff for personal use. It's another thing to start new somewhere else. We actually went to Home Depot a few days ago but the ladders weren't stocked on the shelves and we didn't have time to track down help. But we had a little while before we had to pick up a kid. So we walked over to Staples just to see what they had. A lot of stuff in the $50 - $100 range. We have $100 gift cards, so even better. Was earmarking those for school supplies in case I was unemployed this summer.

That, we have to research and pick up still. I think I will just set that aside for my first part-time week at work. I have picked up some very small side jobs, and we will get some use out of it. I will be replacing a small copier I bought from Costco in 1995. (I actually used it yesterday to make copies for new employer). The crazy thing still works! But I need a scanner and something that can feed multiple pages.

Other randomness:

"Twin" tried to blow me off because she was slammed at work. Someone else had already told her my news. I hadn't thought much beyond, "The honeymoon is over," re: her new job. But in the end, she agreed to meet with me briefly Friday. She was telling me that they were so desperate for help but they just can't find anyone to hire. This market is just so crazy! (Mental note: Not budging on salary if I do ever end up going to this firm).

Of course, it's not quite that simple. We went out to dinner with a friend Friday night and he started ranting and raving about how employers are all struggling to find talent but that they refuse to increase salaries. So there is some crazy supply and demand problem right now. I know, right?! I have been completely dumbfounded with the entire, "We are so desperate for help, can you start yesterday? You have to take a 40% pay cut though." Why aren't more employers increasing salaries to fill the gap? Since I decided to quit my job I have been willing to accept a 25% pay cut. Because that's still a heck of a lot better than unemployment (and is the point we can at least pay all of our bills). It's only at the "25% pay cut" point that employers will talk to me. I've seen too many jobs posted with ridiculously low salaries. I really thought this was the reality of our lower-cost move. But, friend was telling us that is just true across the entire U.S. right now. (I do think it is exaggerated by our lower-cost move because wages were so high and unemployment was so low in our old city, but it had never occurred to me that this was more of a widespread economic reality).

In the end, I have (had) a lot of good clients who pay very well and don't have staffing problems. I knew if I had the time and patience that I would find a good employer. Fingers crossed, but I think I pulled it off. -25% would have been really a temp stepping stone to learn new skills and maybe widen my network. Not the best long-term solution for my household. In the end, I accepted this offer so readily because it was an offer I think will be okay for the long run. Will share more re: numbers later. My total compensation is decreasing 15% from "forever employer". But I am also dropping all the OT so not taking much of a hit on a per hour basis. I think I calculated that I am getting paid 1% less per hour, compare to "fake employer" (who was not paying me for my OT). & if that hadn't gone entirely to hell, I was feeling like that was about as good as it was going to get. So I am really pleased I found such a well paying job, especially since I am taking such a big step down as to responsibilities and hours.

Edited to add: I deleted some delirious/overly tired post from a few days ago. I suppose I should share again (for anyone who missed it or is lost) that next week is my last week off. New employer was too desperate for me to start. We compromised and my first week there (the following week) will be part-time.

I will do a separate car post.

New Car! Part II

September 14th, 2018 at 07:11 am

We drove about 60 miles to a dealership to look at my pearly white "dream car". In the end, it was a little scraped up and just wasn't the "one".

But... there had been a couple of cars in Napa (near where we were). At this point the blue was looking better and better, and we started talking about having a nice dinner in Napa. I was relaxing and starting to feel much better. I just needed a nice "date" with my hubby.

On the way to the Napa dealership, I was trying to refresh my memory how long these cars had been sitting, for negotiations. & checking the carfax, etc. In the end, I didn't really remember any of these cars? I had looked them up before. But minutes before we got to the dealership I see the white one was a bit of a lemon (how did I miss that before??). & then there was a grey one that was one year newer, had all sorts of premium features, only had 14,000 miles, and was priced *very* well. How did I miss this one before? What in the heck!?

MH told me he liked grey better anyway. This is the first one he is really open to talking about post blue car. I told him, I just didn't know. But that maybe I'd like blue better than grey. We just have to see it in person. We both agreed though that we'd buy this grey car even if they wouldn't come down in price. If it came to that. It hadn't been sitting too long, but had sat long enough that they had just dropped the price by 10%.

So we get to Napa dealership and they show us the lemon car. We are really intrigued by grey car at this point, but they told us literally someone just walked into the office to buy it. We were maybe 15 minutes too late. Bummer! At this point, I Was feeling maybe the blue one was "meant to be". Not that we were going to buy it last night, but just where I thought things seemed to be heading. The grey one was clearly not meant to be.

MH was joking and asks, "How often do these things fall through?" I said, "Who knows, maybe they won't be able to secure financing." & I was totally serious. The woman who was covering for the busy sales people told us she'd get her card and we would call back the next day. We went with that just because who knows, but I didn't really think we'd drive out an hour again the next day (in the offchance this deal actually fell through) just to have this potentially happen again. Anyway, the grey Volt was parked right next to where we had parked and so we were really giving it a good once over while she got her business card. I felt a little silly knowing this car was essentially someone else's car now. Like, you don't go up to someone's car and start peering inside and checking it all out. But I *really* liked the color in the end. Surprisingly so. It's more of a metallic dark silver? I don't even know that I have even noticed/seen this color on this car before.

Between waiting for the business card and looking over the car, we ended up dilly dallying for a while. We were just kind of resignedly getting back into our cars when this woman runs back out and says, "Wait! They don't want the car!"

Some part of me right now is just like, "Seriously? Does every little thing in my life have to be a complete roller coaster right now?" But I will admit we have a fun story to share to go along with the most elaborate car we have ever bought. HA!

& I was absolutely horrified how much we had just drooled over the car. But I think it was moot because we were already okay with the price. Also, the first thing the salesman tells us is that they had just dropped the price $2k, and the people had said they wanted the car at that price and then later after paperwork was started they wanted to drop off $500. They said no, and they were really pissy about it. Dealership was pissy about how late in the process they decided to negotiate. It might also be because we were outside drooling over the car.

{In the end, the car was $2k below kbb, or more in line with private party pricing}.

BTW, salesman was so nice. The most pleasant car buying experience of our lives. By a mile. & I don't mean because we bought up so significantly, but because he didn't tell us infinite lies and it was pretty clear to us all along (before we got there) that there would be no wiggle room on price.

& so that is how we found our car! 2017 Chevy Volt (Plug-In Hybrid)

We did score low miles and premium sound, plus some extra luxuries. We had also learned very quickly in the car shopping process that the carpool lane stickers on these cars were all expiring December of this year. Not a huge deal because neither of us drive in traffic 99% of the time. For whatever reason, at some point while looking at this car, I thought to check the stickers because it was one year newer than all the other cars we had looked at. I wasn't expecting much because most likely they were going to expire this year too. But, there were no stickers?? Unbelievable! In the end, no one ever applied for them (prior owner?) and so we get to use the carpool lane solo for the next 3+ years. (Because we can apply for the new round of carpool stickers). This car just had a lot of little perks like that. (This is one of the things they should be advertising, but you just have to figure out on your own that it's a really good deal).

The actual purchase ended up taking so long (they were having a very busy week day), that the kids were asleep by the time we got home. I just told them over the phone that the 2005 basic minivan may as well be a horse and buggy and this car is a spaceship. We have always experienced significant upgrades because since around age 25+ we have always bought one-year-old cars and replaced cars that are 15-20 years old. But this one most definitely takes the cake. & we definitely paid the premium. Car ended up being $22,000, or about $9,000 more than we have ever spent on a car. But I just feel so at peace with it because of all the times we both were so incredibly frugal with our cars. & also, it most definitely feels like the premium was worth it as to everything we are getting with this car.

Instead of dinner and wine at a fancy restaurant, we stopped at Taco Bell around 8:30pm. HA! & MH ordered a bigger dinner and wanted to figure out more of the settings on the car. I just "ate and ran" because I didn't want to drive home too tired. Was past my bedtime by this point. (No way I was driving the brand new car home, tired and in the dark, through an area I do not know well).

Car logistics...

In the interim, we can just plug into our regular garage outlet and it will fully charge in about 12 hours. I already registered the vehicle with our electric company for reduced electricity rates. Will see how the electric costs sort out. (I've researched that but just don't remember off the top of my head). Our electricity is provided cheaply by a city/non-profit utility and is all green energy.

It may cost $1,000-ish (maybe less, but just rounding up generously) to install a fast charger in our garage that will charge the car in 4 hours. There is absolutely no rush on this front.

For whatever reason, the insurance was pretty cheap (which was the opposite of what I had heard and expected). That was another deciding factor. This is technically "my" car as to this is what replaced my car that I brought into the marriage. Post kids, our cars are very 50/50 though. We had a minivan and a small compact car, and it just depends on the day who needs what. We are going to fight over this car like crazy!

Back to the electricity logistics... The electric range is 53 miles. You can choose to just run the gas engine instead. Or, it will just switch automatically to gas when you run out of charge.

The car is *so quiet* which is also a factor we heavily considered with MH's disability. Definitely willing to spend more on quieter cars.

The car is probably most practical as to MH's endless city driving (driving 3 miles each way to work and to pick up kids). We would never have to put gas in this vehicle, and so gives us the chance to test out life with an "100% electric vehicle" mindset. BUT, we bought this car also with my commute in mind. I just went from 11 to 22 miles (each way). I can go roundtrip every day on the electric, easy peasy.

I think MH mostly concedes that the gas savings is more important at this point with the pay cut I took with my new job. But I am certainly not going to hog it completely to myself. We will find a way to share. It's still going to be a 50/50 car. Gas car will make more sense for longer trips or when the four of us want to go somewhere (because it is much more roomy in the backseat).

Some final thoughts:

We really almost pulled the trigger on something maybe even more expensive in the spring. I was really really unhappy at that point in time (with work situation and everything else). At that point in time, I had no idea how work situation would sort out. At some point I recognized very logically that this was just *stupid*. I *knew* that buying an expensive car was not going to make me any happier. & in fact would just add more stress that I didn't need (draining so much of our cash reserves on a car. Or alternatively, adding a monthly bill right before I knew I would be taking a significant pay cut). Logic won. But the feelings were very real.

I am happy to say that I feel the complete polar opposite today. Because we are both so financially conservative, there is definitely an element that this feels very wild and rash. But, I also know that I am mostly making a sound and logical decision. I think most importantly, this purchase isn't being made around those feelings of unhappiness.

If you hadn't picked up on it, we paid cash. We did not purchase any extras. Just car, sales tax, license fee. My parents gave us a cash gift and we had also already saved $15,000 (over 13 years) to replace minivan. So we still have some excess cash to sort through once my employment situation levels out. For now, still hoarding the excess until I feel out the new job.

So... What a week! New car and new job. So much excitement. I think we were long overdue for some happy news. So I am kind of riding the wave of fun and excitement right now. We were going to be in the Bay Area this weekend for the Beach Boys concert. So we will drive it down and show it off to our parents this weekend.

In-laws are gifting their old car to MM(15). End of this year. They are looking at hybrids and so on, to replace that car, and I think we may push them to buy this car. They are being so *cheap*. I honestly wish they'd keep the cash gifts the usually give us and put that extra $5k or $10k to a car like this. Our goal is to get them to make the splurge at 70 that we did at 40. Life is short. & I think that can be a very dumb justification in most cases. But when you are 70 and are beyond financially comfortable... I know they would absolutely love this car! One of their siblings inherited some money recently and bought a Tesla. Maybe we will sway them. We can sell this as the poor man's Tesla?

Edited to add: Our electricity is estimated to cost about $500 per year to power our new vehicle (based on miles driven, presuming it's all electric driving). This is a very personal estimate based on our actual electric usage and rates (including the doubling of my old commute). Since we drove so much the past two days without a full charge, we've used about a gallon of gas. Roughly, one gallon to drive about 50 miles. I am a little blown away since I think official numbers are more like 40mpg, or same as our other car. Will test out on a longer drive (250 miles) this weekend.

New Car! Part I

September 14th, 2018 at 05:41 am

We ended up pulling the trigger yesterday.

To be clear, we are replacing a 2005 minivan. Though it's the newest car we have ever ditched, we just aren't "big car" people and have been scheming to ditch the van most the years I have blogged here. Early on it had been more of a plan to make a lateral car change (which we have certainly done in the past, no big deal). I'd say last time we almost pulled the trigger I was surprised how "in demand" older used cars were. In the farther past, I've generally been the only contender with private parties. In this case, I laughed (to myself) when some guy tried to say he had lots of interested buyers, but it ended up being the truth! So the cars were just being sold much faster than we wanted to act, and we probably had other reservations too. I think around the 10 year mark of owning the van (2016) we decided we were done and ready to just move on to our next "new-to-us" big car upgrade. We had agreed around that point to not put any big repairs into the van. I share just to be clear this is not a whim purchase.

This is one reason I really like paying cash for cars. (It's never the reasons everyone actually assumes). There's been significant upside and savings to just waiting. We've never paid more than $13,000 for a vehicle before, and those were the "big purchases." (The one we bought a few years ago and the minivan). Everything before that was $500 - $5,000. Way too easy to spend too much money when you start justifying the loans. & I say this age 16-40. At 40+, it was maybe a little too easy to spend the money with cash, but I still had to be comfortable writing the check. If I could only justify it by financing the last few thousand dollars? I knew we'd be stretching way too far.

Mostly where we were at before van had problems this week was that we had settled on buying an electric car and probably a Chevy Volt. The Volt is an electric plug-in but is also a gas powered car. So it's the best of both worlds. I think this is going to be a really good in-between car as to transitioning to full electric. The technology is on such a fast curve right now that we were more envisioning paying $5k-$15k for a used one (and were pretty close to pulling the trigger this past year when we test drove some incredible deals). But in the end, every time it was like, "The van's fine. Let's just wait another year so we can double the electric range and get a car that practically drives itself anyway."

As I share more about the electric car ownership later, I will also have to share a Money Mustache post where I believe he bought a brand new Nissan Leaf (electric only) for $15,000-ish out of pocket. I just want to be clear that this is more along the lines what we were thinking. There are a lot of incentives in our state too, and a healthy supply of very low priced used electric vehicles. It was never our plan to pay MSRP for a brand new hybrid or electric car. Most people will at least get a tax credit to offset the extra cost.

We've personally never considered the "new" route too seriously because we don't have enough income to be able to utilize the credit. For example, you have to have at least $7,500 in income taxes to offset the $7,500 Federal tax credit. As of today, you can get $13,000 off of a new Nissan Leaf in our state with rebates and tax credits (I just saw our electric company is also offering a $3,000 rebate, which was news to me). & Money Mustache had also gotten substantial discounts from the dealer. I think $5,000 off for taking a car loan. I absolutely would have financed a vehicle to save $5,000.

For whatever reason we had zeroed in on the Volt. It's the best of both worlds. It's been my "dream car" for the past several years as to it's appearances alone, and is absolutely the polar opposite of how I would ever buy a car. It just turns out to be an exceptional car also. I would say this was the first time we bought a car as to what we really wanted. Versus always being happy in the past with whatever random deal we come across.

{In the end, used 2018 Toyota Corollas are flooding our market right now and are priced around $13,500. Unbelievable! This is precisely how we have always car shopped in the past: Open to whatever might cross our path. In this case, we looked at a couple but just felt very "meh" about it}.

We looked at a blue 2016 Volt Wednesday, that I think we could probably talk down to $19k (because it's blue). Certified pre-owned and totally immaculate. MH was really leaning towards this car. I was being a little wishy washy. After sleeping on it, I told him that if we were really going to pull the trigger on more of a "Dream car" I Wanted the pearly white.

So yesterday we scheduled to take a look at a few deals out of town. In the end, I was not feeling well and had no desire whatsoever to clean out the van while MH was at work (for trade-in). When MH got home he was really pushing (I was surprised) but I just wasn't feeling well and didn't care at that point. He finally suggested I take a nap. I didn't realize I'd have time for that, or otherwise maybe I would have napped earlier. It did help to lay down for maybe 1/2 hour. I think we had an hour before he had to get kids from school. MH was still really pushing because didn't want to go this weekend. (It would be crowded and we have had so much stuff going on every day this week). I finally caved (lord knows I was excited to look at pearly whites). I figured I was probably in a good mindset for car shopping anyway. I wasn't going to be overly excited about it.

Oh, and I had also talked MH into forgetting about the van. I am guessing we will most likely scrap it. I doubt we'd get more than $200 more in trade-in, and I didn't think it was likely we'd buy car yesterday. Driving the gas guzzlers 100+ miles to look at cars? When it's not in the best condition? Meh.

To be continued...

Got the Job!

September 10th, 2018 at 08:58 pm

Today was so totally crazy, because that's the theme this year!

I missed the call because new employer totally faked me out (said they were interviewing people tomorrow, though I *knew* I got the job). So I didn't look at my phone and missed the acceptance by several hours. DOH! Will finalize details tomorrow.

Anyway, I think I squeaked by. Technically today was my last day at old job (though I only stopped by for like an hour). & I got a new job before I was unemployed.

More details tomorrow (I like wrote a book, but I am kind of delirious from lack of sleep, so will post later with more details). Yeah, not only did I get the job, but I probably couldn't have been more of a wreck for that interview today. I just could not sleep last night, which was very frustrating for someone who never has any problem sleeping, no matter how stressed. I think it's just my stress level was at 11 and/or this virus we all have in my house now. Okay, so clearly I was not a wreck, but I felt like it on the inside, for sure.

So, two of the most stressful experiences of my entire life (job from hell/trying to escape from job from hell + job searching, which has always been easy for me, in the end, but is also very hard/painful because I am way too hard on myself)... Well, those are two stressors I don't have any more. It's going to take some time to process, but I was pretty ecstatic to get the news. & I am also ecstatic that I have a few weeks off without any "job search" stress.

Anyone who has had to suffer me this year (including you) has gotten the news. HA!

I turned in my keys today at old job. I have been mourning the loss of this job all year. I broke down a bit last week. It is going to be really weird and an adjustment. Not sure how I will handle emotionally. I am hoping though that most of the mourning has been done. But I also know the reality hasn't totally set in. I am not a dweller and I never look back, so it may honestly be I never really think about it again. Is just how I am wired. But I also think it will probably feel very weird and will be an adjustment period for such a big life change.

One more thing I have to share. "Twin's" new job is down the street from me. !!! (1/2 mile, to be exact. So crazy random). Maybe we will do weekly lunches for a while to help us adjust. I just have to be careful because she is going to be in major recruiting mode. Her job sounds like pure crap compared to the one I landed. HA! (I would have totally visited her pre-interview to de-stress, but she is off on some tropical vacation).

Edited to add: Night 2 on no sleep. UGH! Canceled my appointment today, but will try to get this "old employer" lunch over it. Will cancel if it's too unsafe to drive. I think it's this virus. No one in my house got any sleep the night before. Part of my "book" post I will get to later is our car broke and I have to drive everyone around today. Like every 2 hours or so I have to drive someone somewhere, which sounds like torture at this point because I just want to get some sleep. Anyway, if I am MIA, I am trying to get over this. Will share more details when I have them and when I have some decent sleep behind me.

Time Off = HA!

September 8th, 2018 at 08:40 am

I know that as I get time and space from my work situation, it will all get better. I am hoping next week feels like a lot of time compared to this "all encompassing" work situation. Unfortunately, I still think it's going to be "quite encompassing." As is job searching.

A couple of people (old co-worker and a client) have really encouraged me to take some time off in between jobs. I was leaning more towards that way, but just had too many really good opportunities last week. & I feel I should be looking, even if I just have to be a little more assertive as to start date. But anyway, I did want to share this because both of these people are childless. I don't think their idea what time off looks like is in line with my reality. Ha!

Loose plans to do with my (who knows how long) time off: I wanted to make it a priority to get my professional education done for the year, while I have some extra time. It is doubtful that I can continue to do this on company time, since I am going in another career direction. I did find some time last weekend to make sure I had all those records and to see where I was at with things. I need to get 20 hours of work done. May just cram it in next week to be done?

Other than that, I Feel like I am drowning on every level. Need some time to get the house in order, to go through e-mails, to help DL with whatever he is going through (teen angst/mental illness), to make sense of work files I have strewn everywhere around the house (cleaning out the office a little at a time; planning my exit all year long ~ no time to deal with any of it). & maybe if I am home, maybe MH might want me to pick up some slack on the home front (reasonably so). & to be clear, I don't think he expects anything whatsoever of me the next couple of weeks.

So yeah, I was already feeling some measure of, "Time Off? HA!"

That said, I am taking today off to do NOTHING. MM has been sick all week and I have been feeling the start of something all week. It is an absolute miracle that I am not sick, with my stress level and exhaustion. But maybe it will hit me eventually. Today it's just bed and couch. Brain dump here too, because I need it.

This is my schedule so far for next week:

**Job interview a.m. (looks like a really good fit, possibly less than 40 hours per week)
**Stop by office for "final day"
**Recruiter meeting around noon
**Probably back to office for final wrap up (depends how long a.m. interview runs)

NOTE: Have to update my resume to reflect my job ending. I will probably do this today + make up a reference list.

**Lunch with old employer and his wife. They just didn't have time for me last week.

**Meeting with a client who told me that he felt abandoned.

I might try to schedule some more of these on Tuesday. May end up with some side work. Mostly not interested, and my priority is finding another full-time job. But on the flip side, want to help how I can and I think it's good to open the conversation in case I am unemployed for a while. (I am being extraordinarily picky as to clients I am engaging with and services I am willing to offer on my own).

**BIG interview in San Francisco

**Apply for unemployment? I need some time to try to compress this entire ball of crazy into a very clear explanation that I was laid off (for all intents and purposes; employer is completely MIA at this point). This is for more backup purposes (if I end up unemployed for a while), but even getting one or two weeks of unemployment benefits is better than nothing.

This "tech start up" interview process is pretty intense. I am hoping my stress level drops a bit after Wednesday.

Will see how crazy the rest of the week ends up being. Amazing job opportunities aside, I may just earmark the following week as a bit of a "vacation". & that may be mostly focusing on the home front (infinite chores), but that's okay. Would definitely be a change of pace and a huge stress level decrease.

In other news, I e-mailed my SF bff to see where she was working these days. Looks like her office is right by where I am interviewing. She replied and told me she hated her job and her entire profession and she had quit and is taking some time off. HA! I guess there is something about turning 40+. I'd love to meet up with her anyway, but now I really really really want to meet up with her.

I broke all this out into 2 posts, because it was just a lot.

Will It Ever End??

September 8th, 2018 at 06:01 am

I suppose I am 80%-ish done with work. Bear with me.

Yesterday was my official last day. & was probably at least two more days than I initially had planned. UGH!

I am going back Monday. I think I just needed to space it out a bit for my sanity. It's part that, and part unemployment/gas savings. (Need to pinch pennies where I can). I have two interviews Monday, and my office is right in between. It will be a good place to regroup. It's kind of moot because everyone abandoned me and no one to turn my key into yesterday. HA! (Which happens when you have like only one employee). But anyway, to be fair, I told them I'd just drop off my keys Monday.

Monday: Do a once over (when I have a little time and breathing room) and make sure I didn't forget anything. Turn in keys and passwords. I need to turn in my final time card. I do also have some files to go through still (am relieved to have a little time Monday to do so) and will work somewhat on transferring knowledge and files to "workaholic".

I am not surprised at all that I didn't get my last paycheck on Friday. I think it's for the best because I just know it would have been impossible to be paid for Monday, otherwise. BUT, on the flip side, they owe me a $400 tax-free penalty for every day my paycheck is late. That they seem so oblivious to this very basic (and expensive!) labor law, is just one of infinite things that bother me about this company. (My state does not play around with this stuff). This could tip the scales for me pursuing a legal consultation. I would rather get my paycheck next week and move on with my life. Will see... (I don't know how much any of these kind of decisions are influenced by lack of cash flow or by idiocy. Seems to be a lot of both going around).

In the end, Wednesday was the HARD day. Thursday I Didn't tell anyone I was leaving. I just couldn't deal with that any more, so sent out a slew of e-mails late Thursday night. I know many clients will view this as really crappy, but it's really for the best. If they are pissy enough to move on, that is really what is in their best interest.

Friday, I was not sad at all. So much ridiculousness ensued, and it all felt so futile. Things were kind of coming to a head as to panicked clients (probably spurred by my departure). I didn't get the memo on the newest story we are telling clients. *sigh* (I can't remember what the story is today or who I told what). I know that will never end, because I will continue to get these questions (maybe even moreso) when I am no longer employed. Never heard "boo" from fake employer and they were also ghosting the new receptionist. (Usually she corresponds with them daily). I wonder if that is coming to a head. There's only so long they can pretend, and I think it's getting to be too ridiculous for them to pretend any more. They've shift to "avoidance" mode. I also started going over some client stuff with "workaholic" and it seems entirely futile as to his workload, if any of these clients will even stay anyway, and how little time I have to do this properly. In any normal situation I'd be available to answer questions. You just have to with this kind of job. I don't know where to draw the line with this whole crap show. Will have to work that out in the coming weeks. (I am not too concerned, the more I think about it, because I rarely keep my cell phone on me and tend to be unreachable. & I am guessing I won't get as many calls if I take hours/days to respond). But I am feeling some measure of, "Will this ever end??" There was more. I think just a lot of things coming to a head, plus the reality of it all. I was not sad at all to leave, and it might have been honestly because I was more concerned about not getting mugged. Literally. (I never work late alone, but everyone left and I wanted to get to a point where I could just drop off my keys if I have to). I think that honestly on Monday I am only going to feel relief when I turn in those keys.

My clients are all beside themselves and some of the good ones will need some hand holding. (Some of the others, whatever. I don't care). So I am kind of feeling like this job never ends. Maybe feeling frustrated that it's not the kind of job you can really make a clean break from. I have some very long-term relationships to sort through.

The, "Will it ever end?" question just applies to everything. I talked to my mom last night and there was a death in the family (24yo, auto accident). That is just one highlight of a very bad week of family tragedy and drama.

I am going to try to break this out into 2 posts.

The Longest Week...

September 6th, 2018 at 06:07 am

Having had like the worst year of my life, and more challenges than I ever remember... I was so utterly unprepared for how HARD this week would be. WOW!

I really thought that Tuesday would be my hump day. Wanted to cross off my last big project at work and I also had a really big job interview. All of that went well. Phew!

Wednesday, I had a phone interview. So now I have a second interview with them next week. (They wanted to do it today!) & I have third interview with tech startup next week. If I had to choose between these two jobs, it would be really really hard.

I then started blowing off everyone after that because I was just DROWNING. Got another callback. Thankfully they were mellow about me putting them off to next week. It was a recruiter that is handling the hiring, and most recruiters have been pretty obnoxious and impatient. Everyone needs someone who can start like yesterday. (& I totally understand if they had replied with, "You don't have 5 minutes?? You applied for the job!" But no, I don't have 5 minutes. I have absolutely reached my limit for this week).

Yesterday I started telling all my "easy" clients that I am leaving. The ones who have been pretty sheltered from our office drama and I didn't think would ask me a million questions. I had to make one difficult call because I need some information to finish up and they aren't getting it to me. Thankfully, they had it to me (the info) within hours of this call. Phew! But that one was very hard.

By 4:00 I Was pretty exhausted on every front, and started packing up my office a bit. I think the combo of that and telling clients made it all just very real. I was a bit of a wreck after that. NO IDEA how I am going to do this for two more days.

New receptionist held all my calls yesterday and is so totally awesome. Phew!

Today is just going to be more of yesterday, but worse. Friday, I can't even...

On the "fake job" front:

--We have no janitor service (they weren't paid) and that means we are almost out of toilet paper. New receptionist was writing e-mails about that. I told her to cc: me. My unemployment claim is a total slam dunk at this point. I have reams of ridiculous e-mails about unpaid bills and how desperate we are for staff (the staffing issues go back to March).

--I have still not heard one peep about my resignation. I think these people are done pretending. Could you even imagine resigning from a company and not even getting a response? For a high level/professional position you held for 16 years prior?

Whatever, this certainly helps my unemployment claim. I didn't have any time for their drama anyway. I am personally fine with it and never expected anything different. But it is just so completely ridiculous. I didn't even get a fake nicey nice e-mail about, "Sorry to see you go." That is the part I am surprised about.

I think it probably never occurred to them that I quit without another job lined up, so they aren't bothering to pretend like I have no other choice. I think also they are kind of moronic and have no idea what they are doing anyway. (If I file an unemployment claim, I honestly don't think they have the experience or organization to fight it). But if they wanted to make my life more difficult, they would pretend like they don't want me to go or that I could transfer to another office or something.

& Another One...

September 2nd, 2018 at 02:37 pm

Another *crazy* week... Accidents, hospitals, cancer, biopsies, blahblahblah. It's too much to process.

I gave my one-week notice to my "fake employer" on Friday. It's clear (now) that they have no intention whatsoever to keep this office going. So I started calling them my "fake employer". I don't have any answers. I would prefer to just walk out (next Friday). But I didn't want to give them any fuel whatsoever. Like, "Monkey Mama didn't give us any notice so that's why we didn't hire anyone." HA! (For reference, we are down from 6 to 1 employee, once I walk out). Anyway, on the offchance they will hire someone, wanted to give them *some* notice. I otherwise stalled because I was waiting for a reimbursement (that it was pretty clear they never intended to pay). & more to the point, wanted to secure my paycheck through the 31st. They are crazy and unpredictable so the thought occurred to me they may kick me out. (Very unlikely, but who knows at this point).

I ended up submitting my resignation pretty late Friday (by e-mail), so only *crickets* so far, which is all I really expect at this point.

Next week will be fun! HA! I don't know if I will be subject to some BS where they pretend they don't know why I am quitting. (UGH!) & then there's the clients... I may be avoiding because I don't know what to say really, and I know I will never get any work done once that starts. It's going to be one very bad final bridge to cross.

I am mostly of the mind that I won't find a new job until I get a little time and space from current work situation. & I do want to take some time off. That said, I have been perusing jobs all year. Last Monday was particularly bad and frustrating. Several jobs had popped up over the weekend. But when I sat down to apply, they weren't in my pay range. One was a municipality and wasn't really a job posting as much as creating an eligibility pool. Plus, their application ended up being very extensive. It was late, I was exhausted, I don't have time for this! & I had a really awkward call with a recruiter earlier in the day that had also burst my bubble. So yeah, that's my Monday. MH told me to let it go and stop looking for jobs for like 3 more weeks or something. (Finish up work AND then take at least a week off). Or at least let it go for the week. I was way too stressed with work situation (& everything else going on in my life right now).

Then Tuesday the Universe laughed at me and my phone was ringing off the hook (Recruiters). I saw several good jobs that I applied for during the week. (None of the applications were particularly stressful or time consuming). One recruiter called me about a very short commute job. The pay and location were both very good. Some of the other jobs were only 4 days per week (but decent pay).

Anyway, there was some jobs close to my current pay range, some with significantly reduced hours and responsibilities. Many with decent commutes. Also, a high paying government job that was easy to apply for (compared to other government jobs). It was a good mix this week. For the first time, I feel like I have a lot of options. & I really needed that this week. Phew!

MH said something like I am obviously putting more effort on this front. HA! No. Not at all. It's just my stars aligned this week. Actually, all this happened after I decided to take the workweek off from job hunting. (But I will say that my salary expectations have been more realistic this past month. Regional salaries are just much lower than I had realized).

Oh, the other thing that lightened my mood last week is that I applied at a tech startup Tuesday a.m. and they called me back within a couple of hours. (Wow!) They are really moving fast on this one.
My feelings earlier last week were that I was skeptical and really wished I had more opportunities to compare. But as of Friday, I am starting to get a little more excited about this job. If I do get a job offer in the next week or two, not sure I can turn it down. Will see how the next interview goes.

In general, I don't tend to view decisions like this as particularly permanent. Was just discussing that with MH. I feel like most people over stress big life decisions. I am kind of just, whatever. This is a risk and something very different, BUT, what's the worst that happens? I hate it and I look for another job? *shrugs*

It probably also helps that I am viewing the next 9-12 months as somewhat experimental. Want to see what else is out there. Don't have to worry about finances in this time period. In another year I might have to make some more tough decisions.

I will deal with whatever. I would be very happy with more time off between jobs. So if that's the worst that happens, it's not bad. I will do a separate financial post later. The short version is: I have no money worries for September and October. Bills (for those months) will be paid with my final paychecks.

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