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Moving On

December 9th, 2018 at 10:53 am

I did my "life is still chaos" post, and am now hoping to just move forward.

I don't know if I will accomplish anything today, but honestly I'd just be happy to get a nap. I may just crash all day.

My birthday was last weekend. I spent about 5 hours doing my last class for this year. It is what it is. That was the day of the class, and it felt awesome to be DONE! I sent off my professional license renewal and got that huge time suck out of my hair.

Going forward, will have to maintain my professional license on my own time and expense, but now that I know ahead of time I can at least plan for that. I should probably be doing one class every 3 months or so. No more cramming. Phew!

Back to my birthday... Just stayed home and kept it low key otherwise. I did make sure to relax and enjoy the rest of my day.

Yesterday was absolutely exhausting. I had a Kohls return I wanted to sneak in as early in the month as possible. Went around 8am and thankfully there was no line yet.

I thought I was going to have to do that earlier, then take MM(15) to the animal shelter. But MH has more brain cells left than I have at the moment, and figured out he could drop off MM and I could pick him up. Doh. I really thought I Was going to have to sit there waiting for him 2 hours. Too exhausted to figure out the logic.

Anyway, I picked him up, grabbed some fast food (because that's what we do any more) and took him over to my old/forever employer to work. He worked about 4 hours and he is DONE for the year. Woohoo! I was exhausted yesterday, but it's all good. In discussing his availability and "awesome admin" availability, it was decided he is not needed for the rest of the year. Which is the only reason I would step foot in that office. So I will probably work a pretty long Saturday next weekend (from home) but then I am out and done for the year. December is a MASSIVE deadline month and no idea how they will get all their work done, but it's not my problem. I've been setting pretty clear boundaries re: the last 10 days of the year or so. The only reason I set foot in that office is if I am taking my son there to work.

Wish I could say I'd be getting any time off, but I am just in a new "crazy busy" end of year work situation. As I am guessing the majority of jobs in my field are. My new job is very 9-5 and will be a HUGE break compared to what I am used to Christmas break. Because I won't be cramming all weekend and during the evenings. I do look forward to that. But it's going to be crazy demanding during work hours.

After that I rushed home to ready for my new work's Holiday party. Which I was absolutely dreading. For one, I am an extreme introvert so it mostly sounded like torture. Secondarily, I was just exhausted and wanted to take a nap.

In the end, the party was GREAT!

I don't even know what in the heck, but the house was amazing and had an incredible view. This was at one of the owner's homes. He is not one of the "super wealthy" owners, but he does well enough and is a home builder and so of course built a custom home.

They had hired caterers and the food was absolutely divine.

We had a great time, in the end. Everyone I work with is *so nice*. No idea how on earth I found these people. I would never expect to have so much fun at a party with a big crowd of people that I barley know. (Many of them don't work in the office and I have only met in passing).

In other news, I found out I have two weeks vacation time to use whenever. Woohoo! I will have to ponder. I don't have a lot of time off with this job, so it's deciding if I am just, "OMG I need a week off now." Which probably wouldn't be too feasible until March, given workload. So I don't know if it's that, or I am willing to wait for kids' spring break in April and to plan around them. We've already discussed going to the beach for a few days, but figured that would just have to be a long weekend. I will have to look at calendars and ponder.

I Give Up!

December 9th, 2018 at 09:19 am

We got to enjoy our new washer/dryer for about 5 seconds, before MH tried to start his car and move it back into the garage. At least he was able to move it out of the way for delivery. *sigh* I was pretty sure a nice/convenient Sunday delivery would NEVER happen (because this year has been non-stop insanity). So I am happy that at least we could accomplish that transaction smoothly. (Apparently, just barely).

Anyway, car wouldn't start. Was kind of "meh" about it. I mean, I laughed. I swear I have spent every single week this entire year putting out fires (or dealing with fires that we can't put out). So all I could do was laugh. That we had barely put out the last fire when we had a new one! But it was Sunday night and obviously something *easy* like a dead battery, right?


Was the first time we had car troubles with new job/long commute. So Monday was total and complete chaos. It didn't help that AAA driver did a decent diagnosis on the car and told us it might need to be in the shop for days (to re-create the problem). UGH! In the end, is something with the fuel line probably (our mechanic agreed with the AAA diagnosis) but they cleaned something up for a few bucks and think it might be fixed. It's just the inconvenience factor that was so awful. & I suppose we are not 100% sure it is fix fixed, or if it has a bigger problem.

Got the car back and then someone ran into MH at a red light. Because... of course. It was as minor as can be, but... of course!

I completely give up on the house. I just had to, or I would FREAK! Every single time I plan to tend to household chores, something or other comes up. When you have *11 months* of this, your house looks like a total disaster. I really thought I was starting to get on top of things, and then... I don't know what happened. It seemed to take a pretty bad turn with the laundry/car issues. If I think about it at all I will freak. So I just give up.

I think at this point it's just "life is chaos". "Completely and utterly outside my realm of control" chaos. MH is really getting grumpy about job #2 situation. I told him literally I didn't have time to do ANY work for job#2 last month. !!! That is not the problem! But it will be stressful next month (deadline month). So I keep infinitely kicking the can down the road as to when I expect any rest or free time.

I just think he perceives, and is probably perceived in this blog, that I am killing myself over working so many hours. When the reality is, I can't even find time for that even. I just spend all my time to reacting to chaos. I've probably only had time to blog like 10% of the chaos. There is no way to get it across. I don't even remember all the chaos. This was a conversation we had recently: MH tells DL that my dad had been in the hospital, when DL got back from his Finland trip. I said, "Oh yeah, I forgot." Because seriously, I had 100 more important things to worry about. He was fine, so I had no more room in my brain for that. There is no world where I am just, "Oh yeah, I forgot about my dad being in the hospital 3 days ago". Or that is what I would have thought, but that is my world right now.

There's been some good things and I just wanted to do a separate happy post.

November Fuel Costs - Electric Car - Charger is Paid For!

December 9th, 2018 at 07:35 am

Total miles driven last month on new electric/hybrid car: 1,769

A small improvement; was 2,000 miles last month.

Out of town trips:
--MH drove about 100 miles (on gas) to do some political canvassing before the election
--Bay Area for Thanksgiving (200 miles on gas)
--Bay Area for a book signing (100 miles on gas)

Probably a pretty average month for us.

I remembered to track miles on our gas vehicle this past month; we drove about 550 miles. That was pretty typical for how much I was driving the minivan. Same kind of situation where we favored the gas sipper when we had a gas guzzler, but I feel like we are favoring the electric vehicle even more. If we were driving 4 miles round trip to get groceries before, meh. Who cares if you took the van or the car? But, now all the short trips we do on electric if at all possible.

This comes up to an average of about 28,000 miles per year, total household driving. I'd say we were putting 20,000-ish miles per year on our cars, but have added 5,000 miles per year in commute miles. So I think that sounds about right. The 20,000 was "ish". We don't always do so much out of town driving.

For context, this was from my post last month:

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

Back to November...

Electricity costs: $34.23

1,302 Electric Miles Driven

418 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $34.23

{418 kWh overnight electricity usage, per electric bill. This is the easiest/best approximation of how much electricity we are using to charge the car}.

Fuel Savings: $207

1,302 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=65 gallons of fuel

65 gallons x $3.18 = $207

$207 cost of commute in old minivan
-$34 cost of commute in new electric car

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car.

I am just going to call it. The charger has paid for itself. Woohoo! We apparently received a $400-ish break on our DMV registration, with the car. I thought it was a mistake and had been waiting for the bill. But for now, will just call it a day and will consider the charger paid for.

Prelim Credit Card Tally 2018

December 8th, 2018 at 05:53 am

I don't have December monthly reward totals yet, of course. But I figured I would update all my numbers and see where we are at. This will make it easy to update/finalize at the end of this month.

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)

Other Rewards:
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

Ongoing rewards (through 11/30):

+$276 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$84 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$141 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)

+$705 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,927

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much. (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2017/2018).

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906
Year 2017 = $3,578
Year 2018 = $1,927

Total 7 Years = $22,693
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. I have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade or so.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***

Credit Card Rewards Update

December 7th, 2018 at 07:42 pm

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.


I submitted a "price rewind" (price match) for a Black Friday deal. The cell phone MH had bought was $150 off for Black Friday. So I got a $150 credit for that. Woohoo!

I submitted the washer/dryer purchase, because you never know. Generally Citi tracks the price match, but when we saw the $150-off for the phone we just wanted to be sure it was counted. Washer/Dryer were Black Friday deals. So far Citi is showing I am owed a refund of $8, for those purchases. They track for two months. For smaller amounts like that, they will just send me the money when the two months are up.

I haven't had any energy/time to chase rewards this year. It will be interesting to see how it comes out in the final tally.

I think I can beat 2016, so it wasn't even our lowest year. I probably have around $100/month in rewards, or another $1,200-ish to add to my 2018 tally.

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906

This & That

December 2nd, 2018 at 08:14 am

Well, I am still completely and utterly exhausted.

Last week was actually amazingly quiet and nice. Until Sunday afternoon when our washer broke. In the middle of a wash. *sigh* So peace and quiet turned into "lugging sopping wet clothes to the laundromat and appliance shopping".

I suppose I should back up. Both our washer/dryer are long past their prime. We've been too cheap/lazy to deal with it. But there is no way in heck we are spending one penny on fixing the washer. Will replace both. We did attempt to fix (because would have been nice to finish our laundry load) but gave up. That just added to the time/frustration factor.

In almost any other situation, we would have had it repaired.

On the plus side, most the Black Friday deals lasted through Thursday of last week. I was so relieved to have some time to deal with that. We also supposedly have a weekend delivery, which I am very appreciative of, but not holding my breath about that. (That presumes everything goes well. HA!) But if they can actually pull it off, that is pretty awesome.

Other Randomness:

**My plan is to get my education done and my professional license renewed today. Phew!

I haven't done any work (for old/forever employer) whatsoever. I just didn't have any time this week. I had a sick kid, work was crazy, etc.

I guess my new goal for December is to work enough (extra/OT) to pay for new washer/dryer. That's just 9 hours per week, times 3. I still have lots of financial motivation on this front. Plus starting to feel some pressure re: work promised versus work done (zilch).

Honestly, this is all work I LOVE doing and can't believe I am paid to do. I would be more than happy to sit home and work. It's just finding the time/balance when life is totally crazy.

I am clearly not going to find any balance in my life during 2018. I give up! But I am still optimistic that next month will be better. I am making very slow progress...

**We've got a full plate of concerts and shows planned for next year. My hope would be to have this all pre-funded and then just not worry about spending any cash on this during the next year.

It's just everything we are most interested in has gone on sale this past week or so.

**Other Black Friday Spending

I forgot to mention that I picked up tax software for $18 on Black Friday.

My initial thought was that I would take advantage and use old/forever employer's software while I still had access. Would save me many hours. It takes me about 5 minutes to do my taxes on the professional software. BUT... "Useless employee" deleted my tax access in true "useless employee" fashion. She then realized her bad and sent me some new access code to my work e-mail that no longer exists. *sigh* I had planned to sort that out later. But when presented with $18 software that would do everything I need it to do (but in a very slow and painful fashion) I decided to just go with that. The solution for me may end up being more middle ground. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of moving on with my life. Probably best to let it go. Heck, don't know that I Want my personal information out there anyway. Not feeling lots of confidence in how things are being run, and lord knows who they sell the business to next. I think it's best on many fronts just to figure out a better long term tax prep plan for the future.

Oh, and the 15yo is definitely doing his own taxes. That is another perk of the cheapie software.

**New job is going really well.

This is what I posted recently:
I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary.

Re: taking a pay cut for a very 9-5 job, but expecting to gain some ground eventually.

Shortly after I posted that, I received confirmation that they are VERY generous with raises and bonuses. More than I expected.

I wasn't expecting much. They had done performance reviews for everyone and are expecting a pretty big ramp up of work in 2019. But I was hired in reaction to that and expected not to receive a raise with everyone else. I just happened to come across whatever bonuses/raises they were discussing. Yesterday my boss pulled me aside and told me they were doing bonuses mid-month. As the accountant, clearly I am in charge of executing all that, which is why I had access to the information to begin with. But since I had last come across it they had gotten around to discussing me and told me they weren't giving me a raise, as I expected, but they would plan to do a review/raise for me before next year is over. Just that I don't have to wait until the following January. Also, I am getting a $1,000 net bonus. Woohoo! (I presumed they would give me *something*. $1,000 was more than I was expecting, but I also think some of it is not wanting me to feel left out, especially since I am seeing everyone else's BIG bonuses).

It's very feasible I could get a 10% or 20% bonus next year, so I am very happy with the state of things. I need a $10,000 salary bump to track to where I was at with old/forever job, for 9-5 hours. If I can get a 6% raise and a 6% bonus, then I will be there. Both seem very feasible at this point. I'd say that my new job is 10 times easier and 10 times less responsibility, so I am very happy with things.

This $1,000 bonus even is HUGE to me. The only reason it would not be is the context of the pay cut. But I've never worked anywhere that did bonuses.

**Other than that, my finances feel like complete chaos in the moment.

Just paid the property taxes for the year, all our insurance comes due this month, just bought up a bunch of concerts tickets and a new washer/dryer, etc. But also having lots of money inflows. It just feels like money is flying every which way. I will have time later this month to feel more organized about it and to get a better handle of things. (I know we are spending less than our income, but it still feels very chaotic).

Old Employer Updates

December 2nd, 2018 at 06:49 am

I was doing a post and it was getting really long, so am separating out the "old work" part.

MM(15) did not get his paycheck timely from my old/forever employer. I think payday was a Friday and he went in Monday (Thanksgiving week) to work because he had the week off of school. His paycheck was not there, but I didn't think too much about it. The rumor (whatever they told MH?) was that they had run out of checks. I didn't think too much about that either.

The latest is that old/forever employer took back the business and told "fake employer" to go to hell, basically. I have *no idea* where they are in the legal process of that and infinite monies owed to them, but "fake employer" is not fighting them on giving them back the business. They never really did anything to begin with, so there isn't much to it. They had taken over payroll, and that's about it. They have officially given that back.

Anyway, I didn't think too much about checks having to be ordered with this sudden turn of events. & I mean, I just would totally understand if that slipped through the cracks in the chaos.

Then maybe Tuesday or Wednesday "awesome admin" (who has gone back full-time, temporarily, and is the only reason MM is working there) called me. {MM is there to help her out and to work for her. If she's gone, then he's gone}. Anyway, she called me with an earful. I guess in the end they still had checks (I should have realized because I had been paid already the first of the month) and "awesome admin" knew they had to order more, but old/forever employer disagreed. He is sick and has no idea. I guess it was just a whole thing. Plus they hired some new employees, so how is that for a first impression!? (Probably the least of their problems, as far as first impression. Ugh). Plus, okay, so you don't have checks, so figure it out. There is just no one there capable of "figuring it out." I mean, I am sure "Awesome admin" could figure it out, but she is the lowest person on the totem pole, and employer is probably embarrassed and just unwilling to deal with it.

Anyway, MM had the week off and they really needed the help. I know 100% they will pay him. I told him in no other situation would he ever show back up at work again, but that *I* would guarantee his paycheck. & Wednesday, when he still didn't have his check, I pulled him aside and told him, "And that's it. You don't need to go back until you get paid". You know, just willing to make an exception for the holiday week everyone wanted to take advantage of, but beyond that, whatevs. Figure out your crap!

Yeah, I don't know how long "awesome admin" is going to last, at this rate. What a MESS! I mean, this is just like 0.01% of the business, right? Having checks to pay bills? I don't even want to know what else is going on over there.

Before I quit, old/forever employer's wife pulled me aside with the "great news" they were "hoping to" take back the firm. I was pretty blunt with her. & how does that help me? Back to square one. They still have to sell. Let's just say it didn't appeal to me at all. I told her that I support my family and needed a better long-term plan.

Then... When everyone was going back to help (because old/forever employer was AMAZING, and we are all willing to help in any reasonable way), MH was concerned about it. He just sees everyone is going back and is worried I will to. HA! I told him I couldn't imagine anything less appealing.

So, fast forwarding to last week when my teenager wasn't paid for like 8 days and "awesome admin" is telling me what a nightmare it is over there. I said to MH, "Yeah, because no one could see that coming." Things may be worse without "fake employer", which is hard to imagine in some regards, but not surprising given the situation. Old/forever employer has much better intentions, but you need more than good intentions.

**MM(15) did eventually get paid. Was just delayed a bit longer with the holiday weekend.

Thankfully, my experience was the polar opposite. I did side work for about 4 clients, plus some very highly-paid work for old/forever employer. Everyone was so grateful for the help that they all paid me immediately. I think old/forever employer paid me before I even got around to invoicing them.

I am trying to wean off my old clients and get them transferred over to new accountants. I never did and still don't want the work. I was open to the opportunity when I had no idea what my work situation might be, but it will be *awesome* to get all this work out of my hair.

Work for old/forever employer (side work) is the "best of both worlds" at this point, and I am fine with that longer term. But I've said I am not holding my breath. If it all goes to hell tomorrow, I am totally fine with walking away. I feel pretty removed from the situation. They are desperate and have agreed to my crazy one-sided terms.

Electric Driving Updates

December 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

Last Saturday we were able to get some free charging. MH sat at the free charger while waiting for MM(15) at his volunteer shift. It covers one-way on the 21-mile drive.

We also went to the Symphony last weekend. We had planned to get "free charging" in the garage, but went a little early for dinner and there was free parking everywhere. We chose to save $4-ish and take the free parking instead. Our city (downtown area) has free parking night and weekends for the month of December? But I didn't expect it to be so completely abandoned on a Saturday night. Of course, maybe just lord knows where everyone parked, because the restaurant that we went to was jam packed.

In the middle of the month, winter started to arrive, and did a number on the car battery. I had been forewarned (belong to some online group) but ignored all the "Cold + car battery" stuff, figuring we don't have COLD here. Unfortunately below 50F degrees, you lose a lot of range. I don't know if there is much difference between that and like 0F degrees, because seems plenty of people are happy with their Volts in cold and snowy regions.

In the end, this happened around mid-month and I haven't noticed any changes to our costs, but December will be much colder and I will have a whole month of "cold weather" data to report. Most days I have been able to eke out my commute on the electricity. If I am using gas, it might be 1/10 of a gallon per day. (I think it got a little warmer, because I have not used gas all week).

This will be a morning problem. We have freezes overnight, but during the day it won't drop below 50F, generally. It probably helps to park in the sun and keep the battery on the warmer side. During summer, will do the opposite. I had always been more concerned about our hot summer weather. The heat is supposed to be worse as far as long-term battery degradation. Not much I can do about that, but will definitely be sure to park in the shade during summer.

The garage seems to be keeping the car about 30F degrees warmer than the outside, so maybe that helps with the cold and battery range.

In other news, GM is discontinuing the Volt as of next year. In the online group everyone was saying prices would drop at that point. I don't see why it would make such a big difference, but in the end, I guess this is driving people to not want to keep their cars. I don't *get* it, but whatever. We have talked seriously about buying a second Volt in about a year, before all this. Honestly, I don't expect prices to change much between now and then. But if they do, we will certainly take advantage.

{I think probably they mean more new prices, while I am only looking at used prices}.

It is sad. Americans love their gas guzzlers so much. I haven't seen any other cars quite like this. I was never thrilled with going all-in on electricity. Yes, it's cheap now, but you never know how that might change. I guess for the long run it might be we keep a gas car and an electric car? But I really like this whole "bets of both worlds" thing and haven't seen anything else quite like it.

I guess I should back up and say one reason we are considering buying the second Volt is we are going to run this one into the ground crazy fast, at this rate. Would rather spread over two cars that we can keep for 15 years each. (This car won't last 15 years if we do 90% of our driving on the one car). & MH has a new-ish car, so it would be more of a lateral(ish) trade. We just left it that we need to give it a year before we put all our eggs in one basket. Which is something we would probably never do otherwise, but the car is that amazing. & this also hinges on me getting like a really nice bonus next Christmas. I said it's lateral(ish) because we still would need to cough up some decent cash.

Costs and updates:

**I need to do some homework on the carpool stickers. Still have not had one reason to use them in the two + months we have had the car. I had heard a rumor if I renewed after this year that I could get 4-years of carpool stickers (for solo driver). I can't find anything about that and don't know if that is just a presumption. I don't want to lose out altogether. It would be three years if I apply now. I just have some homework to do. You never know when you might end up in a traffic jam or have a job change, etc., so I just want to maximize carpool benefits. Being prepared, as I like to do.

**The other thing I can't find *anywhere* is what on earth our car registration fees are supposed to be. ??? We paid something like $40 when we bought the car, and when they sent us the title it said "$40 paid" on the registration and/or title. I thought surely that wasn't right and expected to get a bill at some point.

I think it would be a fair assumption that the electric cars get a crazy break on this front, but I just can't find anything verifying this. On the online group I am in, everyone says they are still paying $300 or $400 or whatever to register and renew newer/expensive cars (same model; same state). So, I am confused. Am curious what the renewal will be next year.

**Fuel costs for December:

Electricity is still at about $1 per day, or $30 for the month.

We also drove out of town three times during December, so used a fair amount of gas.

Gas fuel spending was $26. I received a $10 work reimbursement (for driving 20 miles). This puts my net gas costs at $15 for the month, or about the same as last month.

When it got cold, my first thought was that my "reimbursements to self" for quick charger and car premium might take a little longer than I planned. But looking back at October, I think in the end it will be about the same. I saved about $225 in fuel costs?

When I get final electricity costs for November, I will share the details.

December and January are our coldest months, so will see how we fare during those months.

Long Weekend

November 24th, 2018 at 08:49 am

Thursday we drove down to spend Thanksgiving with our families. Usually we host (potluck ~ we don't do the cooking), but in recent years it's been dwindling down to "every other year". Lord knows I bowed out a long time ago, for this year.

We were most thankful for fresh air. We had a big storm and it cleared out all the smoke. Which I know just created more problems overall, but it was so nice to breathe fresh air.

Yesterday I Was just zonked. I wasn't thinking too much about the smoke, but I think that could be some of it. Some combination of oxygen overload and maybe getting some of the smoke out of my system. I mostly slept.

I told MH I'd watch three movies this weekend. We should be done with 20 out of 100. (We are watching the Top 100 movies, AFI, along with the podcast Unspooled).

Weekend goals:

Saturday - clean house and get house in order. Fingers crossed!! (Every time I have tried this year, something seems to get in the way). If I could just cross off a few bigger chores, and feel like I am making progress on this front...

Sunday - baking?


For Black Friday, I submitted a Citi Price Rewind for the cell phone MH recently bought. It was on sale for $150 less. I will get the price match, if Citi will match Black Friday prices. Will see...

{This makes the price far less ridiculous, though will be stuck with the higher sales tax}.


Other than that, we've been spending ridiculous sums of money on concerts. Everything we were interested in went on sale last week.

Also, Sketchfest tickets went on sale. I believe we entirely skipped it last year. Just nothing grabbed us and we were kind of burned out on the spending/travel.

For this year, pretty much everything we were interested in was during MH's birthday weekend. That never happens! Usually it's a lot more spread out and it's figuring how much time we really want to spend traveling to San Francisco. In this case, we got tickets to everything we were interested in, and already got a free timeshare stay right by the theater (where all the shows are at). So MH will have a very fun birthday weekend. These tickets are generally quite inexpensive, especially when it's just the two of us. Will just pay with Christmas money, and the room is free, so it will be a frugal weekend. We will plan to eat very well, but he will probably get some birthday cash to cover the dining out.

Obligatory Holiday Post

November 24th, 2018 at 05:55 am

Here is my Christmas post from 2014:


My job is crazy insane busy during the Christmas season, and so this has been a very big factor in our attitude about Christmas. I don't have the time and the energy and so mostly sit out the season.

Our attitude is also compounded by the in-laws' Christmas gift extravaganza. It's like, the kids got 100 toys from Grandma, so no one else gets absolutely any joy giving them gifts. Even my parents just don't get them anything. I share just to point out that all of the above is more for the adults than the kids. My kids know that their paternal grandparents are a little crazy and excessive but that everyone else we know is the complete opposite. I think it's obvious to them that their experience with Grandma is not the norm. They have never once asked me why no one else gets them any presents - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. It's never occurred to them that they should be getting presents from everyone. They just think Grandma really really likes Christmas!

I read through those articles again and it reminded me of the final rules of Christmas simplicity in our house. We don't travel and we don't cook. My spouse has a problem with taking the kids anywhere on Christmas day because he hated that when he was a kid - he wanted to stay home and to play with his toys. So, Christmas day is always at home. I am more than fine with that because is I am lucky to get Christmas day off and certainly can't swing more time off than that.

I'd say not much has changed. I have a new job situation (so might have a wee bit more time over the holidays). But... I don't expect that I would do anything more but collapse this year (from exhaustion). I am not making any new traditions, that is for sure. I will be able to spend a little more time with my family.

My kids are completely disinterested in the consumer treadmill. As teenagers they don't want *anything* for the Holidays. It's funny how often people tell me, "But you have to buy MORE when they are teenagers because they want so much stuff." I don't think parents realize how much kids absorb from their own parents' attitudes and actions. If nothing else, the kids have never seen us make shopping a pastime. So they just never got the memo.

Thus, we don't save up any money for the Holidays or plan to do any spending.

Now that I think about it, next month is going to be pretty busy because I am working two jobs. (Even though I am taking Christmas week off at job #2). So I think this year I am not going to do anything differently. But next year I could see putting a little more time and energy to baking and volunteering. That is what I would want to do with more time and breathing room around the Holidays.

Getting Somewhere...

November 19th, 2018 at 06:47 am

Cramming 3+ months of work into 2 weeks (10/31 deadlines for old employer) - DONE!

20 hours of professional continuing education - DONE!

{I still have four hours left to do, but I am done with the more time-consuming self-study portion. & I get a reprieve for 2 weeks}.

Organizing/Filing Old/Forever employer work files - DONE!

This last task has been driving me *crazy* all year. I was bringing home files that I needed/wanted to keep, but in dribs and drabs. Because I knew I would most likely quit, but just didn't feel any rush on that front. It's just strewn about the house. Anyway, in the end it took a whole *2 hours*. But I don't know when I would have ever found that 2 hours otherwise. Yeesh! Anyway, it was some combo of that, job search papers, and current work files for second job (work for old employer). But I got fairly organized yesterday. & before that I was semi-organized on the current work I was doing and all the job search stuff. So it wasn't too bad. I just needed to find the time and commit to get this out of my hair.

For reference, I think everything I brought home takes up about 2% of my file cabinet space. Is not a lot. Plus a few books. It was the feeling so "scattered" that was really driving me crazy!

Anyway, it feels *so good* to cross these last two tasks off my list. Feeling like I am actually getting somewhere.

I was able to multi-task while doing the self study, thankfully. (I wasn't too sure and didn't want to waste my time and fail the test). So I did about 4 hours of electronic and paper file cleanup during class #1. I did about 3 hours of billable work during class #2.

I otherwise have not done any work for old employer this month. I didn't get to much else on my to-do list and have a few errands today. (Some of that was due to a friend in crisis. This year won't let up!) & am definitely taking this long weekend off from any paying work. But the work will still be there... Honestly, it's much more favorable for me to do December work and bill in January anyway. I expect our household income to drop about $20k next year (W-2 income) and I can actually keep some of this extra money I am making, if I can push the income off to next year. Taxes are just eating away anything extra that I make this year.

I have just been going crazy with the feeling of getting further and further and further behind. I am *hoping* that I am turning the corner. I plan to work my butt off the next three days, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. So happy to be done with all of this *Cramming*. Now it's just getting caught up on the stuff I set aside so I could cram.

This & That

November 16th, 2018 at 06:14 am

Still in super busy mode. & still completely exhausted on the emotional front (always someone in the hospital or having a crisis).

Speaking of tragedy, the kids have school off Friday because of the smoke in our region. Smoke from the fires. That's a first. The air quality is just horrible here and we feel very trapped indoors.

I actually had an impromptu day off on Monday. Hallelujah! That was a long overdue day off, and so appreciated. We were having major IT issues at my job. With no computers, there was nothing we could do. So we moved up a meeting and then my new employer took us out to brunch. After that, we gave up and went home. I was over the moon.

MM(15) has been doing work for my old employer, and that is working out really well. I expect that he will make around $500 this month. I won't hold my breath about extra work past this year, but it looks pretty likely we will both be needed through tax season.

I was able to kill three birds with one stone, during the past two weekends. I took MM into my old office. I had two webinars planned and so just said MM could work until 3:00 or whatever (I couldn't leave until my classes were done). I parked myself and watched my classes while he worked. I was also able to do a little work for my old employer. Some multi-tasking.

I otherwise did not do any second job/OT during the past 15 days or so. Took a breather! Absolutely no deadlines until January, so nothing is really pressing at this point.

My goals are ambitious for this next week. I need to complete 8 more hours of education, for my professional license. It's actually 12 hours, but I have one last class scheduled in December. The other 8 hours are self-study and will be a little more work on my part. I am hoping the first 4 hours goes well and I feel up to just knocking it out (the second 4 hours) this weekend. I want to be DONE!

I am not planning to go back into the old office at all because MM(15) has so many days off this month and is just working weekdays for the rest of the month. (I just drop him off on my way/to from my job). We can re-evaluate in December.

Anyway, I want to knock out all my education AND I really should be doing some work for old employer. I am okay with piling on the work these next several days because my plan is to take the long 4-day weekend entirely off next week. Phew!

I'd like to maybe take next Thursday/Friday off and then spend the weekend tackling the house. Still so behind because I never had time to deal with anything.

I was feeling so frustrated last weekend. & is a lot of why I Was so happy to get an unexpected day off on Monday. My luck has been going the other way this entire year. I was in complete disbelief that I got a break! Anyway, so I guess that helped me to catch my breath and to hang on.

I am feeling frustrated probably because November is the slowest time of the year at my old job. Since my professional license is relevant to that job, I'd generally be doing all this on work time, and otherwise am practically on vacation all month. I worked 9-5, but might take 3-5 days off every November to do classes from home. Time off for the holidays. & the rest of the time the office is so dead and quiet and not much going on. Plenty of work to do, but was just so calm and peaceful. After a very long and exhausting year, some part of me is upset that my "17 years of QUIET NOVEMBER" is gone. It's just such a pattern that I am used to. But I know it will even out in the next month or two, or three or four. The trade-off will be "no crazy tax season."

I did get around to updating my sidebar. I still want to do some work/financial updates (might have some time in December?) but that is the cliff notes version. We have more retirement space to utilize, which significantly reduces our taxes. So we will be very "Retirement heavy" with retirement contributions in 2019. Or very similar to the early years of this blog. I honestly have no idea where we will be as far as my "10 year financial independence goal" and is something I need to look at. At this point in our lives our assets are working pretty hard for us and my pat cut might not impact that goal; if we rely more on asset appreciation than savings from income. But one reason I haven't bothered to even figure it out is the second job/extra income. & even if that evaporates, MH is planning to increase his income in the next year. So is something I want to work through eventually, but seems moot with all the extra cash I am making right now.

Edited to add: Last I checked, our net worth was up $80,000 for the year. Which means we have exceeded this goal for 2018, already. Will see where things land 12/31, but seem to be on a good track for this year.

I don't think my new job is financially ideal (right now) with this whole teen drivers/braces x2/college x2 thing right around the corner. BUT, I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary. & I think this job is absolutely ideal if MH does find more substantial or full-time work. Which is more the long-term plan. Even if MH went from $10k to $20k income, I think we would both be a lot happier with the shift in responsibilities (and that would put us where we were at before, income-wise). New job is working out really well and is another blog post I Want to get to eventually.

Electric Car Updates

November 4th, 2018 at 08:27 am

MH went out of town to do some political canvassing, yesterday. He was pleased with his gas mpg:

This is the spreadsheet I have been keeping to track fuel costs. I don't know if this sheet is ideal, but it's one I just found and copied. It worked in a pinch. I can tweak it later.

You can click on it to see the details more clearly.

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

{These cars are so under-advertised. We had *no idea* we could get 50mpg on the gas side of the car. We didn't expect this to also be our out-of-town car?
We just lucked out that we found a car with so low miles to start. I really didn't think we'd be piling on the miles this quickly}.

Electricity costs: $31.65

1,516 Miles Driven

386.4 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $31.65

Fuel Savings: $226

1,516 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=76 gallons of fuel

76 gallons x $3.40 = $258

$258 cost of commute in old minivan
-$32 cost of commute in new electric car

NOTE: We were not spending that much on gas before because we bought the new electric vehicle at the same time I found a new job and doubled my old commute. But I do think it was somewhat critical to address our vehicle situation with the new commute. I also took a large pay cut, so the fuel savings is important.

Although my commute is HUGE compared to any frame of reference I have (I have never commuted more than 15 minutes?). I think it's a relatively small commute in the grand scheme of things. Isn't that gas savings mind boggling?? I think this is probably pretty average. It's probably pretty average that Americans drive gas guzzlers and would commute at least 20 miles each way.

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car. To be clear, we did not pay a premium because the car is electric. We paid a premium because it was a huge step up in car. We had saved $15,000 ($100 per month x 13 years) to replace the minivan. We ended up spending $22,000 + tax on this car (less sale of van), or $23,000 total cash out-of-pocket. I'd like to whittle down the extra $8,000 we paid with fuel cost savings. At this rate, we might breakeven in just 3 years. WOW! This wasn't really our intent with the car purchase. We had received a $15,000 completely unexpected cash gift that we decided to use towards buying a newer vehicle. I think it was more to the point that we felt I could buy my "dream car" with the extra money. I did not expect the fuel savings to be quite this substantial. I guess the substantial fuel savings is just icing on the cake!

$745 Cost of Fast Charger/Installation
-226 Fuel Savings October
$519 Net Cost To-Date

It looks like we can get this charger "paid for" by the end of December.

NOTE: I am just ignoring gas fuel costs for simplicity. The Gas Fuel mpg comparison is 20mpg minivan versus 43mpg Volt. (I corrected my sheet after I posted it here). But the 43mpg is more in line with our other (gas) car, which is what we used to use for longer trips. So I don't know that we are seeing any fuel savings on longer trips or gas usage on the hybrid car. Will just track the smaller/electric trips, which is mostly my new commute.

October 30 & 31

November 4th, 2018 at 06:15 am

October 30
$41 Gas for gas car
$5 Lunch
Dinner: Indian Butter Chicken

I have no idea why MH needed gas and how he spent $41 on gas. Didn't use a coupon?? I don't know.

I spent $5 on lunch out.

MH and I had another movie date night, but I wasn't feeling well and cancelled on him. I was relieved to have one less thing on my plate.

My female/TMI health issues started last summer, or long before all this STRESS. But I was being optimistic that things might resolve a bit with things settling down. Unfortunately, I ended up with my stress level back at around 11 again. Was just a horrible week. I just felt my #1 priority at that point should be to go home and rest my body. I was not having a good day on the female/TMI front. So MH went to the movie alone.

I probably needed a night off, regardless. Phew!

MH applied for a job today. I will blog about that later.

Edited to add: I pulled up gas prices today and they had gone up to $3.57 at our grocery store. I noted $3.25 at the beginning of the month. MH told me he didn't have a coupon/didn't plan ahead (no idea, very unlike him). The cheapie gas station is still $3.18. (They are slow to adjust sometimes, is just a very small gas station. Both these gas stations, closest to our home, are usually cheaper than Costco). I might go over to the cheapie gas station to put two gallons in the hybrid car, for our next out-of-town trip.


October 31
$0 Car Stereo Fix
$4 Groceries
$40 Escape room
Dinner: Leftovers

I took the gas car at some point the week prior and I immediately noticed one speaker is out. I honestly have no idea if it just happened then or if MH was that oblivious with his single sided deafness. *sigh*

So he took it in to get it fixed on this day. In the end, something had just become disconnected. They told him we had a lifetime warranty, regardless. (Oh, they don't know how long we keep our cars!! Big Grin )

MH also inquired about a job he had seen posted there. (They do home theater and smart home sales also, which is right up his alley. Not his dream job by any means, but probably a million times more interesting than his current job). The other job he applied for was more the same, but really convenient because it is in our neighborhood.

I noticed that we had a donation pickup date (& I remembered!). I had a few bags collected over the past few months. Plus a few things I had set aside in the garage when we installed the electric charger and cleaned up the garage a bit. So it was nice to get all that cleared out of the house. I had an old scooter that was pretty beat up and not sure they would take, but they picked it up. Phew! A couple of old bike helmets, a skateboard, etc. From inside the house, had a couple of bags of clothing.

DL(13) ended up getting invited to an Escape Room with a group of friends. I guess MM(15) was invited when someone cancelled and then dis-invited when that person changed their mind? (He is always friends with all of DL's friends, kind of young at heart. Doesn't go so much the other way because the older kids don't think a 'younger brother' is as cool as an 'older brother'). But anyway, MM didn't seem to care either way. Thank goodness, because they didn't tell us until they picked DL up that we were expected to pay. Wha??? So MH handed them $40 and they didn't even give us $5 change. I heard him tell DL later, "Your friend owes you $5." Anyway, whatever, we will survive, but I would have been really peeved if it was $70 ($35x2) sprung on us.

I guess I don't know what the norm is, but if I invited the kids out somewhere, I am paying. I will say that when we took MM and his friends to the water park for his birthday, several people offered to pay and seemed shocked we were treating. & that was for a birthday party! So maybe I am the weird one.

Lesson learned. Next time we ask and don't assume.

MM didn't end up doing anything. I think it's the first time he sat out Halloween, but mostly his brother and all his friends ditched him. He was totally cool and fine with it.

I had some plans to sort through Halloween costumes and get some sold or donated. HA! That is my purge fail for October. Will try again next year...

October 29

November 4th, 2018 at 06:11 am

October 29
$?? Target (Groceries)
$14 Indian Grocer
$10 Gymnastics
Dinner: Spinach Manicotti

I keep getting locked out of Target card (new website?) so I have no idea what MH spent at Target. He picked up some groceries. I will update when I get the info.

MH stopped by the Indian grocery on the way home. I don't know that he picked up anything dinner specific, but DL(13) totally goes crazy for their Indian version of "hot pockets". I overheard MH telling DL that they'd stop by on the way home from school and stock up.

On Saturday night I burned out and I thought it was *finally* happening. That all this stress was catching up with me. It is a complete miracle that I have not been sick at all this year. Anyway, I turned off work around 6pm, MH made a very hearty/healthy dinner, and I felt so much better after that. Phew!

I e-mailed "workaholic" and told him I was DONE, but that I could finish some work Monday night if he still needed help. I meant it, but also never expected he'd actually need help. I felt conflicted because I wanted to cram more work in at high pay rate, but was hitting some wall where I was questioning my sanity. I hadn't gotten as much work in at higher billing rate as I had wanted to, but was losing motivation.

Anyway, in the end, I felt fine after I took a break, and "workaholic" never got to that work on Monday. So I had one more big work day push on Monday night.

I am mostly done. MH is monopolizing my time on Tuesday and I have a couple of client meetings (dealing with old clients still). & I have maybe one hour of work left to do Wednesday night and then some invoicing to do. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Phew! If I get home at 4:00 Wednesday and spend a couple of hours wrapping that work up, I can still have a nice/quiet evening. I am taking the rest of the week off. Time to rest and regroup.

Since I am not even getting to posting this a full week later:
Of course, life laughed at me and I ended up having another total week from hell.

October 28

November 4th, 2018 at 05:39 am

October 28
$31 Groceries
$16 Haircut
Dinner: Mexican Potato Soup (crockpot)

Not much to report. I wasn't noticing any decrease in our grocery spending, though DL was gone for for 10 days, MM was gone for one weekend, and we've been eating out excessively (for us). BUT, it hit this week. The grocery run this week was an entire $31. We have enough food otherwise, to get through the week.

MH ran some errands and got a haircut. All I did was laundry and work (job #2).

October 27 - Last Saturday

November 4th, 2018 at 05:37 am

October 27
$29 Deli Sandwiches
$124 Professional Classes
Dinner: Out

MH ended up taking MM to his volunteer shift at the animal shelter, because I was working all weekend. He went to the free car charger (which is right by the shelter) and got about 50-cents worth of free electricity. Or enough "fuel" for the drive home.

I don't remember why, but we decided to bring dinner in. I think MH was just feeling that he had not planned better. & when he brought up the idea of eating out, everyone was game. He picked up some sandwiches from our favorite deli. I still don't understand food delivery, but I guess is nothing our families ever paid for. Just to say we picked up our own food and didn't have any additional expenses for that.

Though I worked like crazy all weekend, I did take the time to sort out my professional licensing and education. The good/bad news is that I can take some live webinar classes during Saturdays. Phew! Is so much easier because then your credit is just based on attendance, and confirming every 15 minutes or so that you are there.

That said, the "cheapie" place that "twin" referred me to (I bought an unlimited class pass for 12 months) did not have two of the courses that I needed. I recalled I had a free course for some professional membership renewal, but I had to pay for the other one. I just used the CE company that I usually use. I knew they had the right course for my state and their classes are top notch. Next time I can take more time to shop around. These two could potentially be more time consuming because they are self study. Will see.

So yeah, that pretty much consumes my Saturdays for the rest of the year. It's pretty much 4 hours x 5 weekends.

Electric Car Costs Update

October 28th, 2018 at 07:15 am

I received my home gas bill and it was something like -$20 due to an energy credit. (They owe us $20). Our home is crazy energy efficient, though we have the more expensive private utility for our gas. So our bills average around $30 per month throughout the year. People all the time presume we have like $300/month heating bills in winter, if we have a larger home than they do. ??? I've never had the heart to tell anyone that is our bill for the entire YEAR. This is also one reason we would very seriously consider new construction again. We've been really spoiled by the low utility costs in this house. I'd describe it as more frugal energy efficient. Most of the energy savings was put into wrap and insulation. Not into things like solar (that cost a LOT of money).

Anyway, I saw the gas bill, so thought I'd check on our electricity usage for the month.

This was electricity usage pre-electric car:

This is electricity usage with overnight car charging (for lower electricity rates):

I was trying to figure out why our electricity was spiking so much more in the evenings on older bills, and I finally realized that was A/C. This second picture is more average electricity usage for us during the fall.

We can charge the car between midnight and 6am for cheaper electricity rates. There is a delay on the charger where you just set how many hours later you want to turn it on. Or you can set that up in your car. I think there's a way to set it up so that if the car knows it is at home it will always delay to midnight, or something like that. I suppose that is something we should figure out. But for now, I just usually set it to charge 8 hours later, when I get home around 4pm every day. Or sometimes if MH is going to run MM to gymnastics or something like that, I charge it until 5:00 and then unplug it. Is just enough charge to make a trip like that.

The summer rates are going to be INSANE during the week for 5pm-8pm, so we are just trying to get into that mindset/habit NOW. We have about 6 months to adjust. Mostly we are doing all the laundry on the weekends and making sure to charge the car at midnight.

I was really pleased to see this last summary pop up, when I logged in to electric company website today. It's going to be so easy to calculate the electric car costs.

For simplicity sake, will probably just use that '12am-6am usage' figure.

So, for this month we used 284 kWh so far, from 12am-6am. It looks like we used about 1.50 kWh per day, during those hours, before we bought the car, so gives us some kind of baseline usage. BUT we also sometimes top off a few miles on the car here and there during the day, so will just consider that to be a wash. Keeping it simple.

284 kWh x $0.0819 = $23.26

If this were the bill for the entire month, that is the number I am going to allocate every month to car fuel costs, instead of "house electricity".

Teen Job

October 27th, 2018 at 11:12 am

MM(15) got a job!

He always has been charmed, and I think that continues for him. My "forever employer" is just up a creek and needs any help they can get to cover work backlog, and until they hire new employees.

In addition, I wouldn't be surprised if I am able to hire him on at my new employer next summer. Will cross that bridge when we get to it, but probably some good opportunities for him. At new job, it's SO busy and they like to hire family members. I will bring it up as summer approaches.

Anyway, this all started because "awesome admin" is helping "forever employer" however she can. She was saying like she wished she had someone who could just scan documents (huge backlog) or something like that. I joked that my son could do it. But in the end both him and both her really liked the idea. So I hashed out the details with "forever employer" this week.

I've said before that one of the perks of living in a higher cost region is if we just live off the one income, all the other incomes are gravy. & the gravy is bigger, though MM has absolutely no expenses at this point in his life. He will definitely take advantage. His starting pay is $12 per hour.

For now, I think they'd just appreciate help for a couple of days. But if it works out well, he may have some work through spring. Though we totally understand if they hire someone good and don't need the help after next month. Will see.

As to me, I need a break. I still have gotten to absolutely nothing on the home front. I still need to take some time to sort out my education/licensing, so am loosely thinking of taking the next two weeks off entirely from Job #2, to tend to that. & Christmas is my DEAL BREAKER, and so maybe taking the last two weeks of December off of 2nd job??

For the past 17 years, Christmas week is a crazed deadline, and is just where I have to draw the line with helping "forever employer". It was the one thing I looked forward to more than anything, with this job change. I will still be working a 40-hour week at Job #1, but absolutely no nights/weekends/OT that week. Phew!! (12/31 is just the most unforgiving/tight deadline, so is my least favorite). I've always worked multiple jobs or long hours, so that part (potentially working tax season) doesn't bother me as much. I still think that is relatively short-term. Like maybe a year or two? If that?? & I am not offering to do any high-stress/tax season type work. So I know MH is concerned, but I keep telling him this is not TAX SEASON. Heck, we've been talking about taking some time off during spring break just because I can. I am still totally free to do that. I haven't even offered to help at all with taxes. Just easy bookkeeping work.

For the rest of this year, I am not working anything like I did the last two weeks. I am thinking maybe 8-12 hours per week. With two weeks off first and then two weeks off at the end of the year.

For 2019, will cross that bridge when I come to that.

I am motivated financially, due to pay cut with new job. Will definitely be more than fine without the extra money, but it's easy money. I can't so no to the easy money.

So my plan the next two months is to only work maybe 12 hours x 4 weeks max??

On the plus side, I am catching up on 3+ months of work that was never done, so as I type this out, I feel better about the next round of Quarterly deadlines. Phew! Just a note to myself that having more than two weeks to cram ALL this work in, will be nicer for next time.

There is one wrench in my plans to take time off. If I am driving MM(15) over to "forever employer" to work some weekends, it would make the most sense for me to get some work done while I am there. His loose first day is planned for next weekend. Will see how that pans out.

October 21-26 - Crazy Busy!

October 27th, 2018 at 09:23 am

October 21
$107 Groceries
$ 20 Round Table Pizza (Used $5-off coupon)
Dinner: Linguine with spinach and pine nuts

MH went to see a free movie (movie pass) and the kids decided to randomly crash at their friend's house for most of the day. This was decided while MH was at the movies, and I had to drive them. But I obliged because DL(13) was in such a good mood about it. In fact, I had taken a nap and had woken up and was just listening to him talk to his friends online. It was just "cute" and he was in a super good mood. Then he tells them, "I have to go wake up my mom so that she can take us over!" I pretended to be asleep and chastised him a bit but said if he promises to NEVER wake me up again like that, I could take him. I wasn't really asleep anyway. TEENAGERS!


October 22
$258 Symphony Season Subscription
Dinner: Fiesta Chicken Burritos

I did go ahead and buy some Symphony tickets. The Season Subscription worked out to $40 per ticket, good seats, with fees and everything. If nothing else, the convenience fees were so high for the single concert purchases, that was where most the savings was. So we paid $40 per ticket for good seats. We otherwise would have paid as much for the nosebleeds probably. The same seats were $60 per ticket if we purchased each concert separately.

I ordered the Pops Subscription, which was Broadway, Queen & Star Wars. (I know MH will LOVE the Star Wars one). The guest conductor we saw last time was AMAZING and he is doing two of those shows, and is why I know MH will love it. The Queen show has a different conductor. I may buy a couple of more tickets so the kids can go. No one (in my household) wants to go to the Broadway one with me, but I will find someone to go with me.

The classic series is $30 per concert. I don't want to go to *every* concert. We do go to a lot of other concerts (art museum, art school, etc.). It may be that I just buy tickets to one of those and will see how bored MH is with it. He will 1000% go, because he knows he drags me everywhere. But it may be I consider just buying a solo season subscription at some point in the future. I don't know if I know anyone else who really wants to go to a bunch of classical concerts. & I could be mis-judging MH. He may enjoy it. But I think it's an easier sell once or twice per year, at this point.

I stopped by "forever employer" on the way home from work (is 100% on the way to/from my old job) to drop off the work I did over the weekend and discussed working past October. (It wasn't on my radar to discuss it, but employer wanted to ask what pay rate I Was expecting). Will probably go back to my old pay rate. Still not sure what exactly I will be doing, how many hours, how quickly before I burn out. Lots to figure out. In my mind, I am probably committing through April or May.


October 23
$9 Lunch
$14 Dinner
Dinner: Out

I was thinking of just focusing on work this week and not going out for lunch, but "twin" invited me to lunch Tuesday. I couldn't say no! (I had invited her all the prior times. I just had no plans to initiate during such a busy week).

I figured MH Would probably never meet me for lunch or anything like that, because my office is so far away from home. BUT, there was a free movie screening in my work neighborhood on Tuesday night. So he came by my office and we had a quick dinner before the movie. We saw Bohemian Rhapsody. It was really good.

On the plus side, I was able to have MH pick up some files for me, from "forever employer", on the way. Saved me a trip!


October 24
$10 Gymnastic
$11 Groceries
$107 Christmas Purchase
Dinner: Korean Beef Bowl

Work Work Work

MH picked up some groceries (no idea what) and took MM to gymnastics.

MH also ordered some electronic toy for his parents for Christmas. They are the only ones we buy for. They go kind of crazy re: Christmas though they are toning it down a wee bit over the years. I don't know anyone else who actually wants to participate in any Christmas/Birthday gift giving. & I mean, I often exchange gifts with friends and family, but it's more "from the heart" and "I saw this and I thought of you" stuff. Not any holiday obligations.
In contrast, my in-laws go crazy but in a way that sucks *all* the fun out of it. *sigh*


October 25
Dinner: Salisbury Steak

I stopped by "forever employer" on the way home to drop off work I did Wednesday. It was super weird because "twin" was there working. She agreed to help through October only, if they just hired her through her new employer. So that was the arrangement she was able to make. "Awesome Admin" is going back full-time through April, but she was not there. Anyway, it felt like I walked into a time warp, with most the old employees there.

At home, I finally got around to setting up some invoices for work I did this month. I sent out about $400 invoices. I expect to invoice about $3,000 total this month. ("Forever employer" is paying me double my billing rate, so that is the bulk of it. Will send them a bill when I am done with October deadlines).


October 26
Dinner: Salsa Verde Carnitas (crockpot)

I have so much work to do for Job #2, but I just came home and crashed instead. I slept for around 11 hours.

I feel refreshed, but I still have about 16 hours of work/deadlines to get through. *sigh*

I would probably just take the entire next week off, but... I have more news on this front. Next post.

Credit Card Rewards Update

October 27th, 2018 at 08:38 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.


I was just paying bills and saw a Hulu Reward offer on our American Express card. Should get $5 back per month, for next 4 months. $10 this year and $10 next year? (We Pay Hulu around $10 per month in lieu of cable).

That reminds me, I need to set up a couple of Citi Price Rewinds (where Citi automatically price matches for 60 days). We had a couple of big purchases this month. I always set up big purchases even if I never expect to get anything. Was just looking and nothing has come within even $100 of the charger we picked up at Costco. But who knows, someone could have some super crazy sale in the next few weeks.


I think I probably would have mostly passed (on one-time bonuses) this year given all my employment upheaval. Life has been CRAZY this year and I am being ultra protective of my credit score since I work in the financial industry. It's always been like 800+, but I just don't feel like it's the year to open 5 new credit cards in my name. Might raise some eyebrows during any employment consideration. (& I am probably just being overly cautious, but that is how I roll). & I did open 4 cards in MH's name last year so I am giving him a break. But anyway, this travel reward was easy and too good do pass up with our travel plans.

In the end, my new employer never ran a background check or a credit check on me. I actually am kind of horrified about their being so lax on this front and will probably chastise them a bit about this in the future. It's on my infinite list of things to address.

October 20 - Kittens!

October 21st, 2018 at 09:41 am

October 20
$15 Groceries
Dinner: Spaghetti & God Sauce

I think I only worked about 6 hours on Saturday. Got distracted by some other things (tending to some chores), and did end up doing some cooking, etc.

In the morning, DL(13) was in a cooking mood. So he made chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I have a super easy recipe that makes a ton. I had literally just sat down to work, and don't remember who thought of that recipe (him or me) but I talked MH into supervising him. I am sure next time he can do it on his own.

We really fell off the wagon as to having kids cook. I told MH if he went over what the kids wanted to make this week I could supervise. I generally get home by 4:30 so can help more on that front. He was resistant because he's in the mindset I am doing WAY too much. But you know, cooking will get my eyes off the computer screen for a bit and I'd rather get in a better schedule of kids helping us. & if we make this a more regular thing, they shouldn't need any supervision/help. The point is to hand off some of the chores to them! But anyway, I just told him that I'd personally embrace "difficult teenager's willingness to help." You know, lean into that. Because if he won't, lord knows I will.

My plan was mostly to work all day, but I had agreed to take a kitten break. One of my old clients is fostering kittens. I LOVE her regardless and is nice to foster our friendship outside of work. But OMG, her home is always filled with kittens. She has been busier than I have been, so I haven't seen her in a few weeks, but she told me it would be great and helpful if I went and played with kittens while she was out. MM(15) finally agreed to go with me yesterday. They were bottle fed kittens. O.M.G. I had no idea! They just kind of attack you and purr like crazy. We walked in and they just started climbing all over us. We just giggled the whole time. I had gone over a couple of times to help socialize the "getting socialized" kittens, and they seemed friendly enough, so I had no idea. I guess I've probably always adopted the scared cats too. I have never experienced anything like this! They just loved loved loved having some people to play with and to sleep on.

It was hard to tear away ourselves from the kittens!

On the way home I got some groceries. I picked up some eggs in case DL was in the mood to hard boil eggs. I had been wanting to make pumpkin bread too, so he is making my life easier. He is not the "makes my life easier" kid, so I was kind of eating this up yesterday. If eggs will magically boil themselves and pumpkin bread magically gets made.

Our store has not been stocking pumpkin this year (???) so I made sure to pick some up while there (I took the last can). Picked up some meat and tomato sauce for dinner, and garlic bread. & a few other odds and ends.

The God Sauce I made for dinner is just a pasta sauce that I make. The first time I made it, DL told me it was so good it was like it came straight down from God. Something like that. To this day, we call it God Sauce. MH can't stand it (is lots of vinegar and garlic) and so I often make this dinner when he is out because it is super easy and the kids go crazy for it. In this case, no leftovers. *sigh*

MH was off on a movie shoot yesterday. I think they were supposed to be done last month but they are crazy behind now. I think he told me yesterday it might be 6 more months.

October 18-19

October 21st, 2018 at 09:02 am

October 18
Dinner:Chicken Satay (Thai)

Someone delivered free (very small) sandwiches to my office. I don't remember the eatery and they were just okay. But that was a nice perk! They were trying to generate business, I suppose.

I can't tell you what a 180 I have done in office environment. My "forever employer" was actually somewhat snobby and their office was a bit of an art museum. Absolutely beautiful offices. BUT, they built the building around 40 years ago and the area has really gone downhill since. Seriously, on like my last week there, someone was setting up a tent in our parking lot in the middle of the day. UGH! I don't know if problems were getting worse because our building was clearly becoming semi-vacant or what. Other than that, it just comes in waves. It may be quiet for several months, and then some weeks there are people fighting outside every day.

New office is in the Beverly Hills of my region. The most expensive zip code.

Let's just say, no one ever came to our old building handing out free sandwiches. Ha!

I hadn't really given it much thought, but "awesome admin" keeps telling me how much "safer" she felt at her last new job, though it was a little ghetto in many regards. I will say that I did pull over to call my mom for some reason the day I dropped off my employment paperwork. In the business park parking lot I pulled over somewhere and mentioned to her it was so peaceful and nice. I definitely noticed that right away. But it's amazing how quickly we adjust to these things. Hadn't really thought too much about it otherwise. Is just my new normal.

Because I do only have a 1/2 hour break, I often just sit in my car at lunch. I would have NEVER done that at my old job. It's some combo of the nicer neighborhood and also being able to run the electric car and listen to music and keep the temperature inside nice.


October 19
$17 School Play
Dinner:Pork chops & Brussel sprouts

MH took MM(15) to the high school play. This is not the art school, so I wasn't as interested. I had to work anyway.

I have some free tickets available for the art school, but all the plays/musicals they did so far this year seemed depressing and/or I was too busy anyway. Will have to pay more attention. I think I am owed 4 free tickets at this point.

That reminds me, we skipped PTA meeting this week. I told MH that the money I would get from one hour of working would buy us 7 parent hours. I am going to do that, instead. This school is so nice on this front. If you can help more time-wise or money-wise, they will take whatever. I thought this was going to be more of a "time" year but apparently this is a "money" year. Take my money, because I am busy!!

October 16 - Splurge-y

October 21st, 2018 at 07:47 am

October 16
$15 Lunch
$60 Dinner
$875 new cell phone

See last post for context and splurge-y turn of events.

I met "twin" for lunch. There is actually a vegetarian Indian restaurant right by my office and they have several $5 dishes. I was thinking, "OMG!" In the end, I talked "twin" into eating there though she had never tried the place or eaten Indian food in general. I got a full meal and an appetizer to share with her. In the end they were so SLOW! Next week I may order ahead to-go and just grab a $5 dish some day to see how that goes. But yeah, I only have a 1/2 hour lunch and she was still eating when I left 45 minutes later. The food was good, so I will try the take-out later and see if that is faster. I can foresee grabbing a bite here once a week if the To-go works out better.

We went out to a splurge-y dinner at our favorite Indian cafe (yes we like Indian food! Most my friends growing up were Indian and I was spoiled by all their mom's home cooking). It was DL's first day back in the States and he really wanted to go out to his favorite restaurant. MH obliged him. I had extra money coming in, so whatever. MH was super generous on the tip again, though it's just counter service.

MH also ordered a new cell phone. He actually kept his last phone a full three years, which is a long time for a phone-obsessed techie. Heck, I really was just limping my phone along (during that last year) when I kept mine for 4 years. Anyway, I am in full agreement with replacing his phone now, before we have a potentially lower income year (2019). BUT, I think the amount of money he spent on this phone is RIDICULOUS. I am sure he thinks the amount of money we spent on this car is RIDICULOUS, so I am not really one to talk right now. Big Grin

So I am kind of grumbling to myself a bit as the entire first 10 hours of work I do for "forever employer" is going straight to pay for this phone. But on the flip side, I did appreciate the money seemingly falling from the sky, to pay for this phone. I just look forward to the part where I get to splurge on something too. I have to pay for last weekend. & then what's next down the line is I still want to get car windows tinted (haven't had the time). & I had been wanting to buy some show tickets. Which was one of those things that was going to go by the wayside with income cut, but now I have this extra money to fund that. I think the annual Sketchfest tickets go on sale in a couple of weeks and there was a couple of Symphony concerts I wanted to get to (I haven't looked up the price yet so I have no idea on that; how many concerts we go to and how many people, will depend on the price). I may have worked enough extra this week to pay for all of that, and can probably work another 15-ish hours next week too. Regular income/budget is all good. If I keep having side work, I will work on 2018 mortgage goal. I usually fund that with OT, but I didn't get paid OT this year ("fake employer" never gave me promised OT/bonus) and we instead prepped for unemployment and replaced an old vehicle, etc. I would be over the moon to earn an extra $3,000 to fund mortgage goal. I didn't expect this!

As to bonus, that is still being fought and I haven't ruled out filing a complaint with the labor board. With a little time and space, I am thinking I should just file the very open and shut "late final paycheck" complaint, which is a $3,000-ish penalty they owe me for giving me my last paycheck late. That would be about net what the bonus would be anyway, but the penalty is tax-free income. I won't file that yet because I "should" also file the OT complaint at the same time (or I lose rights to that bonus), but other lawyers are currently fighting that battle for me. So I need to wait for some resolution on that front, probably. I have something like 12 months to file a complaint. Before I was more in the head space I didn't want to deal with it at all. But I can see I am being much more clear headed about this right now. I was caught up in not sure if I wanted to bother if the lawyers took half AND I just wanted to move on with my life. But I can see taking the easy $3,000 puts us pretty square anyway. I shouldn't need a lawyer to prove I gave proper notice AND my paycheck wasn't dated until a full 2 weeks after my last day. I hadn't really considered the possibility before of fighting that battle on my own. I also didn't want to like take a day off so soon after starting new employment (for labor board hearing) but as time passes and I get to know new employer, I feel better about it.

Mid Month Update

October 21st, 2018 at 06:30 am

Mid Month Update on spending totals:

Fuel $41 ($36 gas car + $5 hybrid**)
**Net of work auto reimbursement for driving 90 miles
Tolls $5

Note: Electric fuel costs were about $15 for the half month

Groceries $433
Dining Out $48
Household $20 (towels)

Gymnastics $30

Copy Machine/Scanner $8
Movies $12
‘Vacation’ $208

I was going to do a mid month update, regardless. It’s been a pretty typical month for us, so far. But the second half of the month gets CRAZY, so I guess it’s good to get this snapshot. (I will eventually get to the “crazy”).

Fuel spending is way down, of course. Though we drove out of town three times already this month.

Groceries have been bought for 3 out of 5 weeks, so we are on track with $650 monthly budget. We will have two more $100-ish grocery runs this month. (This includes cat food/litter and all consumables).

The vacation spending was a splurge that will come from savings (or money that we would have put to savings in a regular month, probably more to the point).

Aside from vacation spending, that needs to be saved for monthly, I’d say it’s been a pretty typical month for us. This level of spending should be sustainable for us, with my pay cut. I know I need to post more about that.

Short update on craziness: Old “forever” employer hired me very part-time at a very high rate. They do need the help and it is a deadline month, but I am also trying to cram in as much work as possible at the higher billing rate. I am sure there will be more work after October but not sure how long they are willing to pay me so much. Knowing that we have this extra money coming in, we aren’t tightening up things as much. The rest of the month will be very splurge-y.

I was really prepping for time off and unemployment, but money/work keeps raining from the sky. It's all good! It's busy and I have no idea when I will ever have any time on the home front (or for anything else but work), but I LOVE all the work that I am doing and have set aside most the work responsibility and stress, for now. (New job is awesome, and I've left behind all the parts of my old job that were higher stress). After October, maybe I will take my evenings back and just work Saturdays or something like that.

October 15 - Out of Town Again

October 17th, 2018 at 07:41 pm

October 15
$12 Fuel (hybrid)
Dinner: Out

We drove to the Bay Area to pick up our international traveler.

In-laws insisted on taking us out to dinner. I have no idea why! Was trying to get them to let us bring them dinner. They had spent 14 hours on an airplane.

But it worked out. Absolutely no traffic for 95% of the drive. We planned to stay there a couple of hours to wait out crazy long-distance commute traffic, before turning around and coming home. Going out to dinner was just enough time to wait out "crazy insane traffic." Though if they were too tired, it would have been nice to see my parents for a bit. But DL just wanted to get HOME.

Though I know DL(13) was absolutely exhausted and ready to get home, I told MH that I prefer not having to stop for gas in the a.m. again. The gas light came on just before we got home. We stopped to put in about 3 gallons of gas. I don't think we have any plans to go out of town or to use any gas the rest of the month, so didn't fill up beyond that. We stopped at the super cheapie gas station on the way home. (The two gas stations closest to our house just happen to be the cheapest gas stations in our region).

October 14

October 17th, 2018 at 07:35 pm

October 14
$122 Groceries
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie

I made some sloppy joes for lunch, which actually made lots of leftovers because the kids were not around.

MH did a grocery run.

We watched 'Singing in the Rain' though I really didn't have any time. 14 movies down. 86 movies to go! (We are watching the AFI Top 100).

I spent the rest of the day doing side work. I have 4 clients that hired me directly, while "old employer" mess gets sorted out. I will update on that, whenever I can get to it. Some good news, and then of course everything has to be drama or crazy.

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.

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