Dh got his surgery date - it's in about 3 weeks.
Yesterday we freaked out a bit. I don't know if it is more real, or if we are just so panicked because it ended up much sooner than expected. We were expecting a February date.
I am relieved we haven't had to get our affairs in order. Long said and done. It's not like he was in an accident and we have minutes to decide. We have had weeks. But it's nice to know that our life insurance and wills and all that are well squared away. I don't know if dh is as insurable any more, so another sigh of relief there. He's well covered for the rest of his life - with the extremely low cost life insurance we bought in our 20s.
Lots of daycare arrangements are to be made in the next 2 weeks!!!
Anyway, to the doctors, this is no big deal. It would be like a 1-night hospital stay if he could get up and walk out. Since they are severing his balance nerve on one side, they want him to regain some balance before he leaves. 3 days in the hospital if all goes well. There has been no talk of risk of death or brain damage, because the odds of anything like that are SO slim.
& yet, they are operating on his BRAIN. It's just hard to accept that it will be so easy peasy.
I assume we will be a bit of a wreck the next few weeks. I will feel so relieved once this surgery is over with.
His pre-op appointment is early, the day after his birthday. So we will go to San Jose the night before and have a BIG birthday celebration, I am sure.
He assumed I would work hard to catch up at work the next few weekends. I asked him if he was crazy - I am spending some good quality time with him while he is well! Though he may make some plans to get together with friends.
So yeah, we decided to take the kids down with us and we will have a leisurely day before his surgery. Will get a hotel a couple of nights, since we have to be at the hospital at dawn, for surgery. I figure I wanted to be close to the hospital the first night - and it will be nice to have a place to rest if the surgery runs super long.
If all goes well he will have surgery Thursday, and be home by Sunday.
We decided to get a nice family portrait before his surgery. Compliments of my dad. Something I'd be willing to pay for, but I know we can get something real nice, for free. There is a possibility his face will be paralyzed, so he wants to get some pictures of his "perfect face" before surgery.
Archive for December, 2009
Dh got his surgery date - it's in about 3 weeks.
Well, I am saving the long weekend, next weekend, for financial chores and such. I will probably even do my taxes for the most part (will have most the info by then). I always file by Jan. 31 for refund; April 15 for taxes due. Of course, our tax situation is extremely simplistic. All of our investments are tax-deferred, so nothing to wait on there. I have no tax-deferred deductions from my paycheck, though if I did, I would still be able to figure out what my W-2 would say, I suppose. So, I usually start on the 1st, and go from there.
Anyway, out of curiosity, I plugged in my #s today. I knew how my W-2 would read - with only one more salary check to wait for this year. Interest income, mortgage, property taxes, medical expenses - easy peasy to estimate.
I came up with a rough estimate of owing $200. Will see! (That is $700 back from Feds and $900 due to state). So will probably file Federal in January and the state return in April. (Or to make it simple - may file when I get the Federal refund).
I usually go for pretty breakeven. The Fed refund is due to the "Making Work Pay" credit. My employer never adjusted my paycheck. Which reminds me, it will probably be adjusted in January.
The state taxes owed are due to the fact that our state taxes went up so much this year. Our total tax was almost DOUBLE last year. Of course, double of "not much" isn't so bad.
In the end, I will double my state withholding in 2010 (from $60 to $120 per month). My Fed withholding should go down just as much, for the new credit. So I Can breathe a sigh of relief that my taxes will not go up next year. It's all breakeven in the end. (Barring future tax law changes). Yes, I ignored 2009 California tax law changes - I just paid 100% last year's taxes to avoid penalty. I figured with the state issuing IOUs and such, why risk paying more than I have to? I didn't feel real motivated to pay in more.
The nitty gritty:
Compensation was about $90k (was a darn good year!)
Federal Taxable income about $45k.
Tax would be about $7k, but after child tax credits and the new working credit, total taxes were about $4k. Still, far more than we have paid most of this decade.
California taxable income was about $65k. Tax was about $1700.
How the heck do I manage so many tax breaks?
10% of my income is paid in the form of profit sharing. Basically, 10% goes into tax-deferred retirement funds. The reason my employer structures it this way is more tax breaks for him - more tax breaks for us. It's kind of like him paying me 10% more, and me deciding to put 10% into a 401k. Except I don't get to control it. He decides how much, and how to invest it. Otherwise, it is pretty similar to a 401k. Will roll it into an IRA eventually, when my employment ends.
We actually whittled down our mortgage interest by about $2k this year, with our refi. But still $14k easy in property taxes and mortgage interest. On top of that, the other biggie is our medical expenses - well over 7.5% of income - the portion over 7.5% is fully deductible. (Insurance premiums, medical bills, dental bills). About $4k deductible there. Plus state taxes and our minor charitable giving puts us to about $20k itemized.
Then, we get about $14k exemptions, for there being 4 of us.
& that is how I get my taxable income so low. It's not exactly planned. One-income with kids, is good for the taxes. I actually avoid things like HSAs and deductible IRAs, because our tax bracket is so low (no real benefit). We fund ROTHs instead.
Anyway, I was a little worried. Our mortgage interest went down, my income was up a few thousand over last year, and I knew our state tax breaks were disappearing. I am relieved that it looks like we made it rather break-even. $200 owing - I Can handle that! I think the new working credit saved our bacon this year.
Next year we will actually have a LOT of medical bills. (Easily $6k more in deductions). I will probably just go with the year-end refund though. IT's just a one year thing - I don't need to get used to a "bigger paycheck." For such a one off thing, I think we will just go with the status quo.
Ugh. Sick sick sick over here. Just me, though. I was quite convinced I had strep - but got the negative results Christmas morning. The throat swelling/fever has gone down considerably today, but I seem to be entering stage 2. Into runny nose/congestion mode. I will throw away my toothbrush when all is said and done. A coworker has been sick for AGES. I asked her if it was strep perchance, Thursday. She said no, but her daughter had gotten it twice. Ugh. I actually threw out my toothbrush last night since the fever seemed to be gone and I was feeling a bit better. I had an extra kid toothbrush laying around. Now I think I will just buy a new one when I am 100%. Just to be safe! Last night I put on a fresh pillowcase and clean clothes, etc. Just trying to disinfect as I feel better.
Downside - feel like hell at night (fever) - my throat was swollen like crazy. BUT mostly feel okay during the day - my appetite is okay. I probably pushed it too much the first day - work was so crazy. Christmas Eve I really only worked 2 hours because I slept in, decided I had strep (after googling it at work - I had the white patches and all the same symptoms) and then went to the doctor and when home to rest.
Next week at work will be CRAZY though - that is for sure. But the weekend is long enough it hasn't stressed me out too much. I Can probably work a bit tomorrow to lessen the load. & still sleep most the day?
I have just been living eating breathing sick all week. Not much else to talk about!
We stayed in yesterday and disinvited our parents. Probably for the best. MIL had stressed me out SO MUCH this week - I do really blame her. & know I just need to keep my distance. Um, I don't even know if dh told her he called the doc or what. I don't really care. (He will likely get a February surgery date - to be confirmed next week).
Dh took the kids to visit both our folks today. I think it's for the best. I know my folks don't need my germs (my mom is uber sensitive to any germs) and I just can't deal with MIL. I am just avoiding her like the plague. Today I get peace and quiet. I already took quite a nap.
Um, dh and BM are indoor rock climbing today. The experience is free since his friend works there. It was his one pre-op wish! Though post-op he wants to do something special too. We are thinking maybe a road trip this summer - none of us here except dh has seen the Grand Canyon. Just, something like that. We are easy to please.
The kids got quite a few toys yesterday. Dh had a lot of books and video games - mostly from Scholastic.
Twister ended up being a HUGE hit at our house. (For BM anyway - LM wouldn't even try). Dh had picked that one up on a whim a while ago.
Anyway, but the big hit was the Hex Bug. Dh saw it on one of his tech shows, and thought the kids would love them. He got 2 for $7, at Toys R Us. Hands down, the biggest hit of Christmas. Figured I'd share, because they are so cool. I had told him maybe we should get more - I didn't realize the full price was closer to $10. We should have stocked up when they were cheap!
& yes - they do creep me out a bit. But the kids really enjoy them!
As for me, the kids got me a teapot. The surprise was ruined because I was planning to go get one at Kohls - I had a 50% off coupon, pretty much. The one I have is just, sad, and I have been meaning to replace. So, I voiced this idea outload to dh at some point, lord knows why, and he made clear I shouldn't buy one. The funny thing is I tend to be a little stubborn and "slow" sometimes when it comes to these things. But the second he kind of freaked out about it - I realized. He actually got me a nice Kitchen Aid one. I hope it holds up a little better! It was funny - the kids got us both kitchen gadgets.
& yeah - we all got a bajillion gifts from the in-laws last weekend.
(While I was sick I did run to Kohls and pick up a sweater and some earrings, with my coupon!) You don't know how many times I drove by and the line was out the door. I was about to give up, but about 4pm Wednesday was the charm. (Though I probably should have been in bed - and I was kind of surprised how much they still had in stock - thought they'd be cleaned out - maybe they will have quite the sale after Christmas).
Dang, it's COLD here!!! I felt like the heat has been running non-stop today (kind of odd) but figured I am not used to so much quiet. Anyway, I can see my sidebar says 48 degrees. Holy cow! We had some frigid nights this week as well. I am so over winter already. It hasn't even arrived yet I suppose. But it's been uber cold. Obviously, from the weather reports, not just more cold than usual, here. Everywhere, eh?
We have tons of food here - intended for Christmas. We figure we will try a redo next weekend. At least invite my folks up (not sure if we will invite anyone else!)
I have no idea what I have missed around here. I hope everyone has been having a nice Holiday!
**I looked in Quicken today, and it looks like the Christmas damage is $500-ish.
It's hard to say since December is the month of birthday, and I just lump all that in too. Though I haven't bought a food processor for dh yet - his birthday is towards the end of January - and probably won't be lumped with "Christmas."
Another thing on the "maybe list" is a new digital camera. The price and quality is amazing these days, but we did spend a lot for our camera in 2002 (when I first became pregnant with child). As long as it still works, I suppose we have been sluggish to pull the trigger. But the $100 price point does it for me. Something we will have to discuss. (We've been discussing it forever, but I suppose I should have dh scour the ads carefully the next few weeks - see what we can score. Tell him that I think it's time...).
Anyway, as to Christmas spending, items of note:
**$130 on the in-laws. They always give us cash, and they are WAY into materialistic Christmas, so they are really the only ones we splurge on. We actually went halves with SIL for a Blu Ray player and various gift certificates. We do a calendar with pics of the grandkids every year, too. Which I do have to hand it to them - that is always the hit of Christmas. Not that it is ALL marterialistic...
*$50 gift cards to teachers. For them, I figured they are always buying things for the classroom, and I know a lot of teachers who get so much crap, they really appreciate something useful like that. I figure it's up to them if they use it for the classroom or to buy themselves a treat. I know they will appreciate it either way.
Hmmmm, what the heck did we spend another $300 on? I'll have to look in Quicken later - drawing a blank. I suppose $50 for my boss's gift, as well as $20-ish for the gift exchange. That adds up fast. I suppose we spent $200 on ourselves, kids, my parents, plus my birthday and my folks' birthdays.
Dh bought some video game for the kids and has a pile of free Scholastic stuff (books mostly, but also video games and toys, etc., etc). We bought a Twister game as well. More last minute, LM bought BM a Bop It, and we bought LM an Etch a Sketch because he absolutely fell in love with one at the museum. While shopping I spotted a generic "Jenga" game for $5-ish. I have to remember to pick that up. We still have to replace the inappropriate "Truth & Dare" one. Though that will be discreetly replaced - no fanfare there.
We kind of entered December thinking the Scholastic bounty would be enough. Probably, but the kids wanted to buy each other gifts, and on and on. Since MIL is such a gift hog (as mentioned before) we feel it is all probably way too much. Since they will get a zillion gifts from Grandma. Oh well!
Dh and I Also divvy up my modest bonus every Christmas, to contribute to our favorite charities. (Usually we both pick very different ones). This year, we both agreed that our charity of choice for 2009 was BM's public charter school. We have already advanced the funds. (Of course, schools can always use financial help, but as a Charter they are the only ones in the school district retaining small class sizes and extra-curricular activities, for this school year and probably many more to come. To be able to do this requires extra financial support though. Moreso this year than ever, with so many parents out of work, etc.).
We usually donate FAR more time than cash to charity. So, that about does it for the year. Though, with BM's first year in school, I feel like I will have a larger charitable tax deduction than usual (lots of little outflows to the school, throughout the year).
**This Sunday we will have our materialistic in-law Christmas celebration. At SIL's home. So yeah - tomorrow the kids will be spoiled rotten!
On Christmas Day we will have our low-key "At home" celebration.
**I suppose not much more to report.
Work will be crazy busy the next 2 weeks. I will be able to collapse on New YEars Eve (late in the day anyway). I will also be able to enjoy Christmas Day, but that's about it.
Today dh took my vehicle in for an oil change, and ran some errands for me, since I had to work. Typical dh, but I very much appreciate it! There are many intangible benefits to having a non-working spouse.
Dh has his big appointment on Monday with a specialist in the Bay Area. I am so crossing my fingers that we all like him, since he is covered by our insurer. & I hope this means we can get a surgery date and start making plans. (Though MIL doesn't matter so much, things will be a million times easier if she supports our decision!!!!!! So yes - hope she likes him too). I think dh and I are pretty set, unless we get a bad gut feeling about the guy, or something along those lines. He's the best we can afford! Well, the best and CLOSEST to home - which is also important if at all feasible.
Some days I just have no idea how I am going to do everything I do + everything dh does, while he is recovering. But I suppose, one thing at a time!
I suppose I haven't been very posty. While everyone is winding down for the Holidays (granted, I do understand most people are more wound up and crazy busy). But work-wise, seems everyone is winding down. Whereas, for me, everything is winding up. Not that the week of December 15th usually amounts to much, but it's been so CRAZY this week, and after about 6 weeks of "vacation" (it's been so slow and I've barely been in the office) it's been a little overwhelming.
I am also not thrilled about all the weekend plans that dh has made for us. Exhausted just thinking about it. Though I may also have a chance to catch up with an old friend.
I will probably work a bit the next 2 weekends. Tomorrow is completely by choice, so I can take Monday off for dh's appointment in San Francisco. BUT, the week has been so hectic I suppose I would be working anyway. (As of Monday I wondered if I would have enough to do. Seems laughable now - basically, have got NOTHING done all week since my phone has been ringing off the hook. Tomorrow sounds refreshingly quiet and productive, in comparison).
I have some pretty exciting plans next Saturday, but may have to work a few hours Sunday or something. (What exciting plans? I am meeting a fellow SA-er in person!)
Anyway, I didn't have a ton to share today - not a lot of time to spare. BUT, had some interesting articles come through my e-mail today:
Foreclosure backlog estimated at 1.7 million homes
A credit card with a 79.9% rate? It's for real
The second article is kind of crazy. But hey, why would 79.9% interest rates be illegal? Right??? Good thing we have so much credit reform (insert eye roll).
I find the first article uber interesting. I am kind of amazed that our home value has remained as high as it has. However, I have also read a little bit about the large extent of "phantom inventory." Particularly in the area I live - but all across the US of course. Banks are just holding onto foreclosures to reduce supply and hold prices higher. It's obviously going on in my city - it's been named a top forelcosure city - and yet there is a frenzy of bidding for prices higher than we paid in 2001 even. It doesn't make a ton of sense. On some level, I expected the frenzy to happen on the lower end, since SO MANY people were priced out of the market for such an extended period. But on the flip side, the frenzy doesn't make a ton of sense. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were so smart to wait - and bought for a premium over what we paid. (Plus they were stuck with absurd rents in the interim). Yes - you are so smart.... Nah - the smart ones will wait for the foreclosure tsunami and will be buying houses for less than this. (I suppose what it comes down to me is that prices don't strike me as particularly rock bottom. & this is probably precisely why they are not rock bottom. The banks control the supply...)
Anyway, my friends who have foreclosed - it has taken the banks over a year to even list their houses for sale. Whereas early on, some of our neighbors moved out, and their houses were sold within the month. Purposely or not, their is some huge backlog going on there. (In comparison, not much has sold in our neighborhood this year. Not anything for sale! Lord knows how many people have walked away from their homes - sitting empty in our neighborhood. Nothing obvious - but they have got to be there).
Ugh, yesterday was extremely painful. But, for the best I suppose.
Took my vehicle into the dealership for a LONG put off repair. Very unlike us. But the same engine error code has kept coming on for a while (2.5 years?) on and off. When it got stuck on, our beloved/trusted mechanic could not figure it out - so sent us to the dealership.
The dealership we bought the car from is semi-decent, and dh did call them at some point, and they said it would be 2 months to order a new computer if we needed one. (It's the only thing our mechanic could figure).
Then my dad had a heart attack and we put it on hold. Then I smashed the door and spent $2k repairing it. We decided to wait a bit - if it was just the computer. Whatever. MEchanic said the engine was totally fine. We were starting to think about getting this thing taken care of (certainly by 12/31) and then we got sidetracked with this whole brain tumor thing.
SO, we took it in yesterday, and it is all fixed. Hooray!
The painful part is the owner of the dealership committed suicide, and the place is shutting down. (Tragic, huh? You could suppose it has something to do with the economy). I hate dealershiups, but that one was probably one of the only ones we can stomach. Why we bought a vehicle from them! So we trudged to the big dealership at the big auto mall 25 miles away. Their customer service was absolutely terrible. *sigh*
Dh did not tell them that it was about 6 months ago that our mechanic looked at it. I hope that is all it is, but they just replaced the part the computer said needed replacing, and seemed very confused. They said they didn't think our mechanic had tried to fix it. The part was clearly not working, etc.
Insert eye roll here. Like I believe a flipping word they say.
I was not pleased with this fact, BUT the engine light has stayed off for about 35 miles (a new record) and I am hoping that just enough time passed that it all worked itself out. Like, maybe there was nothing obviously wrong before, but now there is.
My window has stopped working again, so dh inquired, and they offered to replace the motor for $500. Never mind. (The other dealership "fixed" it for $100, our mechanic lubed it up for free a couple of times, and even the body repair shop fixed it without us mentioning it). Though it may be true that this would be a permanent fix, I don't particularly want to spend $500 to find out. I found a free fix on the internet that I keep forgetting to try (just reset the fuse. Which I think is what the body shop did, maybe not even knowingly).
I am $500 poorer, but the original quote was 4 figures, and I've never really had a car payment. No complaints here - turned out better than expected!
Since the part was not working, I hope we didn't do further damage to the vehicle. We usually take our cars in immediately for any repair - just feel so jinxed with this year.
The most awesome thing is that I don't have to reduce my net worth for this expense. My mom gave me $1100 for the MRI (which may never be billed at the rate our HMO bills) and I have about $700 set aside for it already. SO, her check will probably pay for the MRI and rest of medical bills for year (one more doctor visit at least) AND the car. What a load off that it wasn't a more expensive fix).
I am pleased as punch about that!
In other news, a pile of credit card amendments arrived in our mail this week.
Nothing to note - mostly removing fees as per new legislation.
I didn't pay attention to the interest rates since hell would freeze over before I would pay those interest rates.
I did have to share though because the topic of conversation came up with friends, and they were kind of annoyed by my attitude about it. I suppose they thought I was poking a jab at them. Hey, they can do what they want. What do I Care? You want to pay 30%+ interest? BE my guest.
It's just funny how people who don't question absurd debt, react to people like me. They think I am just cocky and have never suffered a hardship. I Couldn't possibly understand.
Um, no. Let me put it this way. If I was hard up for money. (Say - if I lost my job. Which is not a terribly far fetched sceanrio). Say I lost my job and ran through our cash. Would I be charging things on my credit cards? Um, no. What these people don't understand is that I Would sell my cars, house, and kidney, before I would start paying 15%+ interest rates on borrowed money.
So yeah - I stand by what I Say. I didn't look at the interest rates because I don't care.
A few things bouncing around my mind - I suppose a lot in to reaction of forums posts of late, etc.
Out of curiosity, I checked the name brand of our mattress. IT is "Origins." If you look it up, it looks like a pretty mid-range price brand, but my mattress is heavenly.
I was curious because there was talk in another blog about mattresses lasting 10 years. Interestingly, mine is 10 years old, and comfortable as ever. It hardly seems near the end of its life. Then again, our rule of thumb is generally to keep things twice as long as they should be (or to use 1/2 the recommended amount, etc., etc.). Not that the "twice" rule would work on a mattress, but I wasn't going to throw out my most treasures possession because it was 10 years old.
Anyway, it looks like most/all the "Origins" mattresses, today, are warranted for 20 years. I am not surprised! (& am somewhat relieved to expect another 10 years from our mattress).
In my search for the tag - I told dh we should probably give it a flip. I am quite sure we haven't rotated it since we last moved 8 years ago. The mattress did feel a little more firm last night (less cushy and comfortable) but I slept well and had no aches and pains, so I presume I should just grin and bear it. (Usually I just melt into it, and sleep like a baby). Dh said he thought the bed looked higher, after the flip. No doubt it has less sag on the other side!
I don't know how we ended up with this mattress. We were kind of going cheap, BUT anything under $1k-ish was a little too crappy for our taste (it is a Cali King), so we just went with one in the $1k-ish range - a mattress that was on deep discount. I am glad to see it should last 20 years, because I don't think I could sleep without it. I would buy the same brand again - for next time.
I think my car strategy has taken a bit of a detour. Our strategy is to always pay cash for our cars. We both paid $10k-ish for our last cars, so we figured we could afford $20k-ish for the next round. (Our first cars were in the $1k range, etc.)
I am not sure this plan will come to fruition.
One problem is we have greatly reduced our income, and taken a big financial detour, since having kids. I am trying to build up some savings for things like our next car purchases, but I seen to end every year somewhere around $0.
Part of the problem is we assumed buying more expensive cars would mean less repairs, and that they would last longer. The interesting thing is that dh's car was actually more in the $8k range, but it was pretty new. The car is by far the best car we have ever bought - lowest maintenance, etc. So, we should be well on our way, right??? Thing is, my vehicle sucks. I have meditated on it, since we have talked much about chucking it and making an even trade for something else. The thing is that there really isn't anything mechanically wrong with the car, and it's not horrible. I am just not used to really having much in repairs, and since it is so "modern" it has a lot more stuff in it that can go wrong. Whereas, our old clunkers of yore were just very basic and never had much to them. (The computer is what regularly has problems, in the van).
Anyway, the van has cost us a lot of money we should be saving for our next car. But, more to the point, saving $20k per car one income isn't exactly cutting it, while saving $10k per car on two incomes was easy peasy. I suppose if we could put off our next car purchases until dh is working again, then it's all kind of moot. But I have the feeling we will be going for one more round of modest cars, when all is said and done. We no doubt chose more time with our kids, and slower lifestyles, over more expensive cars. Nothing I will complain about.
Dh's vehicle is a 2001 Ford with about 110k miles. My biggest fear right now is if it is totaled. It is not insured for replacement value, because it is "worthless" (worth less than the deductible, in the end). I suppose the premature demise of the car would be an "emergency" and we could buy something similar to replace it (similar as when we bought it in 2002 - a $10k-ish vehicle). Though if it lasts a few more years (which I have no doubt it will, otherwise) replacing it with a newer/more upscale vehicle may be possible. Dh really wants a Prius. I don't care, if we have the cash. I just refuse to finance a car when there are perfectly good alternatives we could pay cash for. (I know he would be happy with a $10k-ish car if something happened to the car, say tomorrow. We both agree that we have to be doing pretty darn well to sink money into a Prius. Though my first car was a Toyota, and I sing it's highest praises for lasting so long, the truth is dh's car will easily last as long though it only cost a fraction, new. With time I am less impressed with "brand name").
I also thought it was likely that dh would end up with a Yaris as a compromise (he likes small cars) BUT I have seen a few in our neighborhood lately - and they are smaller than I care for. Dh's current vehicle may be "small," but it has a lot more buffer on the front, and back (where the kids sit). It actually has a fairly decent trunk, and we don't mind it for long drives. I don't think Yaris can boast the same - it's uber tiny! But I suppose there are plenty of more roomy subcompacts to be had in the $10k range.
Kind of where we are on the car thing. I wouldn't be surprised if we trade the van in (even trade) for something else older and more reliable, in the end. For now, it is behaving itself. It's actually been pretty good this year - but for me smashing it into a pole!
I suppose it is time I get into the 21st century.
It started with dh getting a few texts here and there, with craigslist sales and such. We figured, a cost of doing business... (Verizon charges 20 cents a text). Then some of my friends would text me once in a blue moon...
But, it's escalating. I now have 3 friends who regularly text me. I decided that I should see what our options were. BEcause, though I haven't seen the point before, it's not necessarily worth alienating my few treasured friends, in the name of not paying for texting.
I am pleased with the answer. If we all wanted to text on our family plan, it could get pricey. But if it's really just me, I can get 250 texts per month, for $5/month. I think I can handle that.
For now, if I stay under 25 texts per month, I stay under the $5. That 20 cents per text is steep, but a small price to pay, I suppose.
I sent 2 texts in the last month - my first 2. I guess I am getting with the times!
To tell the truth, the texts have all come in handy. I Was trying to meet a friend and my voice mail was full, so she texted me to tell me so. I have texted her on other occasions where calling wasn't as useful. Today I Was meeting a friend for lunch, chatting on the phone with someone else, and she texted me to tell me she was running a bit late. It was nice that I didn't have to hang up my phone call and check my voice mail, etc. I can see the usefulness in it.
Though until I get a keyboard on my phone, I don't see a LOT of texting in my future.
I talked to my mom today and she is sending me the check. Though I still won't get too excited until I receive it?
We also received $110 in the mail today, from a grand relative. I had forgotten they usually send us money - color us spoiled.
I feel like a weight has been lifted from over-spending this weekend. I got a "get out of jail free" card. Which means - I will learn nothing? Hehe.
In other news, dh has arranged a rock climbing date with BM (his one pre-op wish). His friend works at one of those places - so it is free. No complaints here. The funny thing is BM thinks he is a monkey, so he will probably LOVE it. Literally, he has to TOUCH and CLIMB everything he sees. Luckily, with age, he shows a little more caution and fear. He used to scare the hell out of me when he was little.. I think indoor rock climbing will be an excellent outlet for him.
I almost forgot that I have awesome news!!! MIL talked with a couple of people who have used our referred surgeon, and guess what, they had good things to say! (Doh!) So she is getting more optimistic.
Won't it be ironic if she likes the surgeon, and we don't? Stranger things have happened.
But seriously? What are we? Chopped liver? Are we idiots? I've told her the same - in one ear and out the other. I had the feeling she just didn't care - not like it's rocket science to track down this doc's reviews and patients, etc. So I am relieved she is considering some vein of logic in all this.
I just caught on to this, per Coupon Addict:
Very interesting - to narrow one's belongings down to 100 things.
I am not particularly interested in narrowing down my belongings (I have been going through stuff for at least 5 years, and have given away a lot of stuff. Though I still have some things I need to get to...). BUT, I am just kind of curious how many things I do have. So, I will probably work on a list, out of curiosity. To see what I have and if there are things I will reconsider parting with. I think from there, I will come up with a figure - though I think it will end up more than 100!
I think this challenge is tough as a married person. There is a lot of stuff I own that is shared. Should I consider that stuff as "half?" Does furniture not count? Things to ponder...
I think this could be an interesting project for 2010.
Well, it's been spendy, but the cosmic powers that be have allowed it I suppose.
Last night we had an impromptu $150 night out. Don't ask me why - very unlike us. The babysitting fundraiser was $40 for the kids. I Wasn't feeling 100% and was ready to just stay in when dh was going on about what he wanted to do. I suggested we do something different - like go out for fondue or something. I actually had a coupon in my coupon book, so we decided to give it a whirl. I figured it was uber expensive but maybe we could keep the costs down. In the end, we spent $100, coupon and all. Plus $10 to park downtown. IT was pouring rain and freezing - who knew so many people would be out - yeesh. (Actually, we were lucky to get a table with no reservations - the place was rather small).
Anyway, I felt terrible about this since we have seemed to hemhorrage money the last couple of months, with this and that. On the other hand, sometimes it is nice just to say "Screw it," and do something we would never do otherwise.
Now we can say we have been there, done that. Worth $100 to ever do again? Nah. Part of the reason we tried it is my dad took me out to a wonderful fondue lunch - I think it was when the fam was in Florida. That place was about as expensive - but was better. (Though my mom and I both felt the cost was insane and doubted we would ever go back). The place last night had more variety and we certainly had a feast though. We also had our chocolate flambeed, last night. (Fancy!)
So yeah, that's that.
Today was a little better. I Ran to Kohls in the a.m., with the kids, because I really just wanted a nice sweater for my wardrobe. I try to buy like one sweater and one dress every year. (I buy more than that - but those are like the basics). Nothing really fit and I didn't do so good (which was annoying - they are flipping sweaters - but they all just fit so odd. I usually don't even try on tops really). The kids were being obnoxious so I could have probably left spending $0, but I saw the most beautiful jacket I had ever seen, and it was on sale for $30 (something like 80% off - it was an expensive coat). All they had was Large, so I Almost passed it up, but tried that one on in the end and it fit perfect.
I suppose I will consider donating another coat, since that one wasn't really needed. But I will feel like a million bucks in such a fancy jacket (hope it washes well).
BM fell victim to the size trolls today too. My kids grow tall and lean. I am always grateful that even the cheapest of pants these days tend to have elastic bands on the inside. I always make those as tight as I can, and the kids generally wear belts too.
SO, since he had some freak growth spurt, and mostly skipped size 6, I went to grab some size 7s today. Not sure I'd have him try them on, but just that I Can't believe he skipped a size. (His 6s looked like flood pants!) So he did, and he couldn't button the slim pants. What the heck??? It's like bizarro world in the size department - not just me!
I can't believe I bought my boy regular pants! 'Tis nice, since I am not sure the larger sizes have all that elastic (I just don't know).
They only had one pair in his size though (un-slim - Was on sale, phew) so we may run to target this weekend too - to get a few more pants.
We ran by Walgreens to get some umbrellas. We don't generally need or use them, but I told the kids we could go for a walk in the rain today. I think the umbrella I had broke. I suppose I will have to go on an umbrella hunt.
We stopped by Walgreens to get some Umbrellas and some junk food. We asked and couldn't find them umbrellas, so figured they were out. I checked out all the junk, and on the way out we spotted the umbrellas, of course. 2 for $10, so we grabbed 2 and went back to pay for those. The cashier told me to use the $5 I had just earned, and didn't know I had. So in the end, 2 umbrellas for $5, wasn't half bad. Talk about customer service. My mom is always telling me how much trouble CVS gives her about those. WE go to walgreens all the time (the only store we can walk to), and not sure I ever got a $5 coupon.
Anyway, the kids excitedly claimed their umbrellas. Maybe I should go buy one more, for myself. (BM does walk to/fro school to, so will probably be handy for him. It just really never rains enough to warrant an umbrella from the car to the door, etc.).
I slept in and missed aerobics this morning - gah! So unlike me! I decided to go to they gym, and took the kids. We paid for lifetime childcare though, so was nice to get some use out of it. The kids had whined and complained about it for a while, and they were always watching TV, etc. They can do that at home with daddy! But today, they had fun and didn't watch TV anyway. Worked out.
Oh yes, so today my mom calls me and tells me she is sending me a $1000 check for dh's MRI. This is extremely unusual (my parents are tightwads!) and a very nice and unexpected treat.
Any worries I had in the back of my mind about being a little too spendy last night, immediately went away. Sometimes these things just work out!
Of course, my mom called me later and sounded like she was changing her mind. She called to ask me about details on our health plan. I have told her a million times we have a higher deductible because we save about as much on premiums going that route. Sensing her mind change I threw in that our deductible was doubling next year. (It's not like it matters that much this year - but next year will be ugly!).
Anyway, regardless of if I end up with this check or not, I suppose I should have a talk with my parents about this. It's not polite to tell someone you are going to give them $1k, and then change your mind. It's downright annoying!!!! She was going to send me $1k for the ambulance bill (the one I never got) and then changed her mind. I suppose I didn't fret too much about it since I never got the bill. But that was long forgotten, until I could sense she was going to change her mind a lot faster this time. (Last time she changed her mind after weeks or days. This time it was an hour I guess).
It's just how my parents are. THey want to help out if we *need* help. *Need* is relative. If they don't want to help us that is fine. I will have to remember this next time - no excitement until the check is in my hand. My bubble was filled and deflated rather quickly! I suppose if she asked me if I Really needed it, I Would say, no, not for 2009, but it could be really useful for 2010. Which is kind of how our conversation went. & even then, I don't know. My parents don't generally hand me cash, and if they are going to start to, it's something they need to work on. Like, be sure before they open their mouths! Because, though I am fine with no handouts, I don't like getting excited about a gift that gets taken away! (If I had to guess what happened - my mom blurted it out, and my dad did not agree. My dad is the tightwad, I should say. )
So, will see...
Anyway, I have a walk in the rain to prepare for. Brrrrr. I must be crazy, but the kids need to go run outside. (I don't mind rain - just not a fan of cold! Though our extreme cold weather has left. Phew!).
I really don't have any spending on my horizon, but all mys pending yesterday and today was so impromptu. So I don't know. But overall - not much planned here the next few weeks. Think we will hole up inside and try to stay warm, the rest of the weekend.
We've mostly been busy volunteering - I think we will log 9 hours for Scholastic/school activities this weekend. Dh already worked at least 7 hours at the TV station this week. I suppose we should do what we can while able bodied. Just, when it rains, it pours. Our schedule has been a bit hectic.
I had some time, and so decided to look at my net worth.
With the real estate market, decided it would be UGLY.
In the end, not so bad. No improvement over last year, but didn't expect any...
(I suppose I am at the whim of the market, the rest of the year - but wanted to see where we were at).
Cash was mediocre. I did save far more than I expected to this year (with the demise of our beloved preschool). BUT, also had a lot of unexpected, and luxury expenses, this year.
I don't expect to make much progress in 2010. I just want to save more than I Spend! (Medical bills and house maintenance will be big in 2010).
The investments are the only silver lining here. My retirement is up about 20-25%. I put away $13k during 2009. Grandma gave the kids $1/each, per usual. Next year I will be happy to put away $8k. Taking a step back while the market is rebounding. IF it dips low I will be tempted to invest more, on the other hand.
I still have $7k cash (emergency) in our ROTHs. The returns get invested into the retirement portion of our ROTHs. (What returns, right? I did have some though).
On the autos, I adjusted my car down a lot, to $5k. I just haven't been depreciating it fast enough. Dh's car is valued about $2k right now, for net worth, and I Depreciate it $500/year. I'll probably just do $1k/year for mine, going forward.
House - I have been using assessed value since the bubble was so volatile. The way property is assessed in Cali is up 2% per year, max. BUT, adjusts downward for real losses. While inflated gains aren't helpful to my balance sheet, the true value as it goes down, is good to know. This is why I like just going with the assessed value. I think the assessment we got is low, BUT won't be surprised if our house drops a lot in the coming year(s). So I will just go with it. I will wipe my brow with a "phew" this year that the assessment is what we paid for the house, and that the market is performing even better. Can't say what 2010 will bring. (I'd guess, more losses!)
We did refi January 1 and roll the costs into our loan (Have never done that before, but felt it was worth it for the rock bottom interest, and to keep our liquidity). Though we added a fair amount to our loan, our repayment clip has resumed where we left off - just about $4k per year to principal. I can live with that.
Interestingly, we have been homeowners 10 years, our home is worth about what we paid, and our loan is about where we started (maybe $1500 higher). Thing is we now own twice the house, and land. Doesn't tell the whole story at face value - since moving bought us twice the home, and more, for the same price as where we started. There is really nothing complain to about considering the real estate mess. Putting 25% down on our current home, has paid off. (As did buying before all this mess. It's paid off because rents are insane here).
For reference, I've got prior years cumulated:
Though the last 2 years haven't been pretty, we don't have much to complain about. Careful saving in our youth has given us a tremendous leg up.
2010 will probably be our last one-income year. I look forward to being able to bring in, and save, more income. Maybe make some forward progress... (Not that I expect that dh will work full-time, or even part-time. But he can raise enough to fund his ROTH, etc., with the kids in school all day).
ETA: Auto loan $1 was a typo - oops!
I am with the others in the West. Brrrrrrr. We've got snow, and a freeze warning. Both which happen, never? Living in the valley, I don't think we got snow (certainly nothing that stuck). But a lot of my co-workers live at slightly higher elevations (500-1000 feet?), and all woke up to snow today. Color me jealous! Nothing more than a light dusting, of course.
I don't see any more snow in the forecast - just freezing temps. Like anyone here knows what to do with that.
It's a bummer that it will probably be too stormy this weekend to drive up to the cabin and see all the snow up there. BUT, will keep an eye on the weather, just in case. If the weather clears, we will have an impromptu snow weekend.
My basil plant may be a casualty, from last night. Will bring it inside tonight, just in case it is still alive.
The heat will work extra hard the next couple of days!
My brain is in 2010. Since any bill I get going forward can be pushed to 2010 (put on credit and paid in 2010), 2009 is mostly over for me. Though I will wait for 12/31 for investment values and such, to determine my 12/31 net worth.
So I still have a little financial housekeeping to do, for 2009. But for the most part, I am thinking to 2010.
I updated my sidebar, in light of this.
Last year I thought long and hard about my goals. It was a good year, I am happy, and so I don't have much to add this year. On the flip side, I think with all that is going on, simplicity is best. We won't have a lot of money to spare. & we will probably focus a lot of energy on dh's health rather than other things.
Thus, my financial goal is rather simplstic:
$0 to ROTH.
Re-evaluate once we pay all the medical bills.
Instead of saving in various buckets, my only real bucket this year, is "cash." Though I would be happy to divert some of that to retirement, if the year goes better than expected. (Efund and medical fund are fully funded, as of 1/1. So other cash is really my only other savings goal. Cash for car replacements, orthodontia, house repairs and the like. I can't seem to make any progress there since I seem to get a pile of unexpected expenses every year. $2k here, $2k there. Medical, dental, smashed cars, etc. Feels like I Am spinning my wheels a bit, and why I am happy to hit cash hard this year).
I also had a long-term goal to put 15% into retirement. I am putting that on hold, for 2010. Until all this mess clears. 10%. Of course, I still don't know what my compensation is. By some miracle, I could get a raise and keep 15% to retirement. Just not exactly counting on that one. I am assuming no raise, or something very minimal, considering the economy and everything. I also don't expect I will be able to do big on overtime this year - though some overtime is calculated into my $15k savings goal. I can probably only save $12k, otherwise.
My HOUSE goals mostly remain the same. I thought I would have enough cash this year to implement a lot of put-off purchases. Probably not, in the end, so may push them off. But we did make some progress on some inexpensive repairs, and have more to do in 2010.
My PERSONAL goals mostly remain the same:
[ ] Read a book a month
[ ]2 weekends away, with just dh
[ ]1 camping trip
[ ]1 trip to the snow
[ ]More trips to the cabin
[ ]More biking & hiking
[ ]Season passes to Raging Waters
I feel like I should add "survive" to the top of my list, and I would be happy with that.
BUT, 2009 was very fulfilling as we focused on things that were important to us. We want to make sure we make fun things a priority for our family. Most the things on the list were very frugal too, but fulfilling. IF we do all that, I don't think anyone in my house cares if we can't afford a bigger vacation this year. (We've really only had room for more "vacation" the last couple of years, and as such, are used to extremely frugal weekend getaways and such. Of course the whole thing point is that long/far vacations are not our priority. We like making use of what we have here - and did excellent with that in 2009. I suppose we didn't particularly "vacation" in 2009 if I think about it. Though we did pay for a few more hotel stays than we usually would. Coud live without...).
I did add a new item to the list: To read at least one book a month. I have been staying with that pace, since about October. Before then, "what's a book?" But putting it in writing, as a goal, really makes it more of a priority.
I suppose I don't care if a lot of this part of the list gets put to the side, with dh's health issues. I just don't want to forget these things, for when he is better.
The theme for Christmas this year, is decidedly "kitchen."
I was just telling dh that I was probably going to get my dad a smoothie blender, and didn't have much else to buy. I also had confirmed that the spoiled cousins (our children and their cousins - with the Grandma gift hog) were not exchanging gifts.
Dh and I never exchange gifts, so I clarified that. I guess the rule is since BM has an allowance, that he has to buy gifts for us. Dh told me they had bought me a $25 gift. Ugh. (BM contributed like 1/3 of it).
I was wondering when I would have time to shop, and annoyed at wasting money on useless items, when I remembered dh wanted a larger food processor (we have a mini one). Not what he had in mind I am sure, but heck if I am going to waste $20 on something he will never use.
In the end, I perused amazon a bit and it worked out. I found a mandolin slicer with rave reviews, for about $20. We had been talking about that. Bonus was it came with a knife sharpener, for about $5, which would make it eligible for free shipping (amazon). Might as well take the sharpener.
So basically, I spent 5 minutes shopping for dh - and am done! (Will consider the food processor for his birthday. Better yet - will suggest that one to his mom).
I suppose I should have included BM in the process, but I know he will really like the idea. We will have to talk about it later. I'll ask him what he thinks and steer him in that direction. & if he HATES the idea, I suppose he can buy some stupid trinket for dh. I suppose it is the thought that counts!
I was going to take LM to San Francisco today, on the train, but the weather is COLD and my friend is out of town, in the end.
Wasn't sure what we were going to do, but decided to go to a museum today, instead, at the last minute. (Before that grand idea, was just going to go home!)
Reminds me, MIL gave me a coupon book for my birthday. The thought is definitely nice, but she handed it to me with the comment we would need it with upcoming medical bills and such. I suppose, but we generally don't have money for most of the stuff in the book, in the first place. Which means, with medical bills and a coupon, doubt we will use it that much. Though I did find a few interesting/useful coupons. Will squeeze it for all its worth, all the same. I just doubt we are going to start eating out and frequenting expensive entertainment places.
I'm in a different city today, so the coupon isn't helpful for the museum. Which is our other problem - we tend to do "fun" things in other cities.
I didn't get a dime for my birthday. Not a CENT! It was just kind of odd. Dh's family is convinced they will spend a hefty sum to save dh's brain, so I assume that mostly explains why. Thing is my mom had been giving me some money the last few years. So I was kind of surprised. I suppose this year it doesn't matter much. It works out. It just sucks to get used to getting a couple of hundred bucks, and then getting nothing.
I suppose that is the theme of the upcoming year. Not counting on anything, in this economy. Less so than before, not that I ever "count on bonuses" and such.
I was spoiled rotten with material things, food and love, so I am not exactly complaining, either.
I've been too busy to worry about dh this week.
He JUST got an appointment with the best neurosurgeon our HMO can offer. We both lean towards him, so I REALLY hope we do like him. Will be the cheapest route, anyway.
I am beside myself because the appointment is in TWO weeks! BUT, in the end, the day was perfect. I assumed dh pushed it off because it was such a good day, but he said that was the first time they offered. We will be in San Jose for Christmas on Sunday, and his appointment is near there on Monday. I will probably just work Saturday so I can take Monday off. It's hard to know if that will work - this time of year gets kind of crazy at work and it is a short week with the Holidays. I suppose it will have to work, orelse there will be a lot of unecessary driving. (I could drive home and work half a day, if I need to, and then meet him for the appointment).
Anyway, we would be there anyway, BM is out of school for the Holidays, and it is a day I can probably take off. Phew.
I feel like everything will be so much easier once we can put our faith in a surgeon. Until then, just in major limbo.
I suppose tomorrow I will do some financial housekeeping, once I make it home. I came to San Jose for a seminar, yesterday. I am so seminared out (20 hours this week?). One more to go - next week!
I only have one word for this week - CRAZY!
I am actually at work 3 days, but it is filled with meetings and such. I am starting to feel "behind." Ugh. Maybe next week will be normal, though I may take a day off to meet with the Bay Area surgeon, with dh.
My mom's health has been going downhill a bit.
I am not sure how much of this I can take. Both my folks, and dh.
My mom called me yesterday, sounding somber. I asked, "Who is it now?" I figure someone was in the hospital or something. Why not? Why not make it one more person to worry about?
In the end, she had her own rough week, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was holding back since she knows what I time I am having.
I mentioned earlier, this whole trial has been life-affirming on some level.
For all the negative, I am just glad dh can look back so positively on his life. & like I said, he is expected to live, but still, it gets you thinking. Many deep discussions around here of late.
I feel moreso than ever, that we made the best financial choices we could, to move here. I have considered opening a HELOC, if it comes to borrowing money for surgery outside of our insured options. The thing is, we have that option. Back home, we would both be working, and could perhaps have over double the mortgage. (Or just be paying 2-3 times as much to rent). We likely would have much younger children, if any. Putting more important things on hold, for insane cost of living. Are we more glad than ever, that we thought outside the box in that regard.
On the flip side, it has been important to be close to family. We have needed each other a LOT this year. Since we had talked so much about moving out of state, I am glad in the end, we stayed. & yet, moving to our low-cost haven gives us so much more flexibility and financial options, as we face crisis.
My birthday came and went, and I was spoiled rotten.
I also got to see dh's MRI - and it was hard to see. Just, wow! His tumor is quite large.
I have greatly welcomed the chance to return to work and to have other distractions. Phew!!!!! Maybe the timing of all this is a blessing in some regard. Work will keep me busy!
**In financial news, I got our new bank account, in Trust, all set up and funded. Getting 2% on our cash, now.
**I am not sure what our HELOC options are, if so needed. Thing is, it goes against every fiber of our being. But I suppose I could consider up to $250k in loans against our home, to save dh's brain. (Thing is, we never take ANY debt lightly). Leaves us about $40k to borrow ($250 was just the max we said we would ever borrow for a home - we ended up closer to $230k when we bought this house). I am not sure we have the equity to borrow that much though. Lord knows - the market is so wacky here. The thing about this year is just nothing has sold. Nothing has particularly sold less than $300k. But, who knows.
**Last I looked, my perspective was that the school daycare was EXPENSIVE.
I guess perspective changes? It is $6/hour, $24 max a day (holidays and such), AND full-time is about $330 per month. I won't stress about it - easy/convenient/affordable/good option.
These are the kinds of things I am looking at. I guess, trying to prepare for the worst. I hope none of this stuff is really needed, of course.
We've been told that dh could "recover" in 2 weeks. Or he may have balance issues and be unable to drive, for many months. So many unknowns at this point. I am just trying to think ahead and be prepared as possible.
I haven't read the comments on my last blog yet - it's going to be a crazy week.
YEsterday we actually had a pleasant time with MIL. So goes the rollercoaster. I know better than to hand her over our medical record #s, but she may be helpful in the end.
So is today - will see about tomorrow.
I am highly skeptical of the surgeon she wants to do the job. I know he is highly regarded, and was trained by the BEST, etc., etc., etc.
What's the catch? HE seems very EAGER! She has made a billion calls and said he could get in to surgery at our HMO for $10k.
Huh? That's it? I actually had an outside surgeon do a procedure at the same HMO when I was 17. I said, that sounds awfully cheap (for a brain surgeon) as mine cost $10k about 15 years ago, for a jaw surgeon.
She says - oh no - it's a nonprofit organization and blahdeblahdeblah.
I told her that we were not sure our surgeon would do much but supervise. For $10k, is he really going to do anything but watch. Our his stats as good in an unfamiliar environment?
As I tried to ponder why the "best" would be so "affordable" in the end, it all comes back to the economy. Everyone I have seen who openly discussed their experiences online, paid $100k-ish for the shole shebang at THEIR Office. Hospitalization, staff, and everything. Obviously, in the boom, people afforded this with home equity and such.
I can't help but wonder if in this economy, they are a little more desparate for patients with that kind of cash - searching out reasonable options.
So, I couldn't help but feel that now is a good time for brain surgery, in that regard. To us, $10k is nothing. For dh's brain? We've got the cash.
I just found the whole thing interesting.
Anyway, as we are talking in the realm of reasonability, and I can tell MIL about my own experience, we found some middle ground.
Dh is leaning in another direction than we prefer (more risky surgery at small chance of hearing preservation). BUT, it's up to him, I ain't going to push him either way. I suppose I will support him and help keep his mom off his back.
It's ironic, that in all this mess, we are the ones that are being logical and making MIL think through some of her bizarre assertions. But then again, as a mom, I'd probably be overly emotional too.
Which reminds me, a co-worker praised me as being tough and getting through this. She said, "You're not like those other girls we have who cry all the time." LOL. Not sure I agree, but I suppose I can be tough when I need to. IT just struck me as funny. Other people's perceptions can always be interesting.
I have found myself worrying about something like a mile down the road, and keep telling myself to stop it. One day at a time really. IT's the only way to go. That is such a dh thing - he worries about stupid stuff way in the future that will never come to be - constantly. I am glad that in times of crisis, he seems to have put that aside.
I think his personal opinions on treatment will lead him to our covered surgeon anyway. Will see! If so, he can fight it out with his mom.
BTW, by some miracle, when I had surgery, the surgeon ended up doing the entire surgery AND our HMO paid his bill. I don't think we even asked - I think his office asked for reimbursement and got it, by some fluke.
I always figured if I got stuck with some $10k medical bill, I Wouldn't sweat it. Or what are the odds I could be so lucky again? Though I am still a little skeptical about this doc's eagerness, the $10k figure is almost like a "sign" in some regards.