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Archive for August, 2010

The Education Bubble

August 31st, 2010 at 08:10 am

Posy from MyMoneyBlog.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/charts-college-tuition-vs-housing...

The post shows graphs of the Education bubble compared to the housing bubble and the huge increase in healthcare costs.

Kind of interesting. Clearly all of these cost increases can be largely explained by the available of easy debt.

I commented on this before when we were looking for a neurosurgeon for dh's surgery. My MIL is crazy, so who knows, but she swore that a #1 surgeon in LA would only charge $10k for the surgery, and would even travel up north to do so. This was his fee - our insurance would cover the rest of the surgery and recovery. (HE didn't make us the same offer so lord knows if this is really true - she is on another planet sometimes). But, the whole thing sounded very weird to me. But then you think about it. For the last decade people haven't thought twice about cashing in their equity to afford the best doctors for any medical procedure, etc., etc. Heck, I know a pile of more lower class/lower middle class moms who have been getting boob jobs and tummy tucks. Price is no object when you have $100k equity at your disposal.

Suddenly the gravy train has run its course, and $10k cash in hand is better than the $30k that no one can afford?

OF course, the point of the post was that education is the BIGGEST bubble. By a mile!

Well, that isn't very surprising. Do we know very many people who have really considered the financial ramifications of their college choices? I personally feel like one in a million, with my own very practical approach to college. The prevailing attitude is that "It doesn't matter how much it cost - it will be worth it."

Isn't it amazing how wide reaching and devastating the affects of the debt bubble were? It's just mind boggling.

American Express Rewards

August 30th, 2010 at 06:37 pm

A credit card offer caught dh's eye.

Comes with a Kindle and a $100 Amazon gift card. (IF we spend $200 in the next couple of months - um, I think we have that covered).

Will probably get it.

First year is free and then the membership is $175. *choke choke*

Poor, naive dh tells me, "I think I will call and ask them if I can just cancel the card after I get the reward."

Oy vey!

I told dh I would look around online to see if there were any catches. Rolleyes

Dh is of high intelligence, but sometimes when it comes to this stuff, I do have to roll my eyes. "Yes, dh, I am sure they will be honest and up front with you. It's not like they will just say anything to get you to sign up."

But a quick google search shows me these offers are pretty common. & that there is ample time to cancel it before the insane annual fee kicks in.

Dh and I do these offers all the time. It's probably been a while. But our credit scores both average about 800. So, eh. I haven't found it amount to make much difference what we do (opening and closing cards over the years). Apparently, paying our bills on time makes up most of the score.

This one is all dh. He will just get it in his name, and he can deal with closing it.

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We will probably give the Kindle as a Christmas gift to someone in the family. Not sure who yet. Dh's family really wanted to get him one before his surgery. Would have been useless because he did not feel up to reading for quite a while. & we declined the nice offer because we could never see spending all the money on books, etc. We prefer the library! So, I don't think it's the greatest offer, for our own purposes. But, it may pay for Christmas. A kindle + $100 to spend at Amazon should cover Christmas pretty well.

Low Key Weekend

August 30th, 2010 at 07:45 am

**The weather Gods were super nice to us. We had an all day soccer tournament on Saturday. It never got hotter than 75F. About 30 degrees cooler than average?

Definitely the coolest summer day, in decades.

**Yesterday I scrubbed the floors. Which is something I never have (make) time for. So, this means, I am feeling pretty caught up.

BM has a hand-me-down desk in his room. I was making sure their rooms were picked up and vacuumed, when I asked BM if he wanted to move his homework to his desk. For now, he has taken over the kitchen island, which is fine. He can be with the family and ask questions while he does homework. But, at the same time, he usually doesn't need much help, and might as well use the desk in his room.

**For the long weekend next weekend I Was thinking I really need to do a Goodwill sweep throughout the house. I found a couple of things around the house, and the kids' room just seems piled high with junk. They don't have a LOT of toys, but there are just little happy meal and birthday party favor type crap all over the place. I just despise that stuff. I swear we just threw away a bag of useless crap. I have NO IDEA where it all comes from!!!!

I just need to go through every room and make another pile.

**Nickel and Diming continues. LM's teacher asked for $5 for a project. Soccer asked for a $10-$30 clinic. We are passing on the time and money for the clinic. I have the means to handle all this stuff, but I can tell having the 2 kids in school is just going to compound everything. Plus, the extra-curriculars are asking for more money with budget cuts, too.

I know the new Kinder parents enthusiasm for parties and stuff will annoy the hell out of me.

**Dh has already volunteered 6 hours at Scholastic since school started. He is committing 1 hour a week to each classroom, and a couple of hours a week at the public TV station (in addition to the long weekend/night pledge shifts he always does). Plus, he is making progress on home video edits and such. He is keeping plenty busy. We may not be made of cash these days, but I think we are doing our fair share to help.

More Random Stuff

August 27th, 2010 at 02:13 pm

**Talked to the mortgage broker who did our last refi. "Tell all your friends they only need 5% equity + no PMI!" Ugh. Doesn't matter much - either you are upside down or you have a lot of equity. Not much in between, around here. I know a few people barely upside down who are desparate to refi (& the really upside down). But have yet to come across anyone with just a wee bit of equity. I thought the FHA requirement was still only 3.5% down, anyway. MEaning, I don't think the 5% equity thing is that much of a surprise or novelty, all things considered.

**The school situation has been pretty sweet. There is a big push to walk to school and all that. That's fine and dandy, but by nature of the school (it's not the neighborhood school - it's a public charter - and kids come from all over), walking is only feasible for a very few.

So, ironically, we walk to/from school all the time. I suppose we are "weird," when we think of some of our neighbors who drive everywhere (like the couple of blocks to the pool? One neighbor behind us regularly drives one block, rather than walk.. ???)

Yes, if I think about it, we are weird. Big Grin

BUT, anyway, I don't know whose bright idea this was, but since so many people can't walk, they just encourage everyone to drop their kids off at the corner shopping center, and walk to school from there. I imagine all this does is move the traffic mess from the school to the shopping center. One would wonder how the very small handful of businesses feel about this, but maybe it generates sales for the drug store over there - who knows.

As for me, I drive the kids to school, because it's on the way to work. I would avoid picking them up in the car at all costs - even if I have to park across the street and walk over. But morning isn't too bad, and it doesn't much matter. It's on the way, so I pull over a few seconds and toss them out the car.

But, the school is REALLY into this walking thing, so I had the passenger loading zone to myself today. Kind of funny. As stupid as I think it is, I guess I will just enjoy.

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**I saw this question recently posed in a blog: "If you could live anywhere, where would you live?" As replies poured in about tropical islands and exotic locales, all I Could think to answer was, "Close to my family." The events of the past year (almost losing my dad, facing dh's own mortality) have definitely sealed the deal on that answer. In fact, I have spent most of the past year thinking to myself, "Thing goodness we didn't move!" Because, we were pretty close to moving out of state just a few years back.

Positive Thinking

August 27th, 2010 at 07:23 am

I think my goal for 2011 will be not to spend any money. Big Grin I was just saying how I am doing just dandy on my savings goals, but expenses are another story. Even before this latest doozy. So, maybe if I put my mind to expenses. Try to will Murphy away. It's not ALL Murphy, but we have had plenty of Murphy thrown in, no doubt. It all started when I smashed my car door last year, and hasn't seemed to let up!

That said, what's done is done, and there is nothing I can do about it.

How it this for positive thinking? Since our upcoming Hawaii trip comes with free airfare and free hotel, I decided to just pretend like the massive dental bills are really for the Hawaii trip. It's hard to get upset about a couple of thousand dollars when you are spending a week in paradise for free. Good timing?

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Of course, I had a good talk with a friend. She was saying how her neighbor's teenaged child kept losing his retainer. Ouch!

& suddenly it hits me - that my 7yo will be responsible for a $500 retainer. Yikes!!!!!

The plus side is that we do not put anything disposable in his lunch. So we will talk to him about putting it inside his lunch bag at lunch. If he forgets it there, whatever. We will have to check after school. But I don't necessarily see much throwing away, unless he buys lunch and sets it on the tray. Ugh... Of course, if he loses it that way, a no school lunch policy might be the result.

I hadn't thought of any of this, but was a good heads up. She told me, "I am sure your kid is much more responsible than my neighbor's son." Um, the 7-year-old? I am not so sure! He can't even remember to take his backpack, after 2 years of school. Lord help me!

Random Observations

August 26th, 2010 at 07:16 am

I've noticed strange little things about the economy.

I had been noticing very few trucks on the road, when driving long distances on the interstate. I don't know if there is less, or if they are driving faster. Or both? I just rarely seem to pass any trucks in the 70mph zone, anymore.

Of course, last night I saw plenty of trucks. Way more than I have lately. Hmmmm...

& then, at seminars, suddenly, no pens. They usually always set out pens and paper (at hotels and such). & now - no pens! Just a funny/random observation. No more budget for pens, eh?

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I saw a Tesla roadster yesterday. Sweet!

I think we saw one when we were driving back from Monterey. Know I had seen one recently - not 100% sure where. Before that, the only one I had seen was in my neighborhood. Spotted once, many years ago. Meanwhile, every time I am driving in the Bay Area I think, "You think I'd see more Teslas."

& so I saw one yesterday, right around Palo Alto/Stanford.

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Ugh. I picked a terrible time to go to the Bay Area. I usually don't encounter much traffic on my daily commute. But last week, there were 3 times that there was an accident or fire at my exit. Then there was a fire by my work. Traffic traffic traffic. & that's about how my day went yesterday. Traffic traffic traffic. The brakes got a workout. Was just unusually heavy traffic, everywhere.

I actually waited out the commute traffic and left around 7pm to drive home. So I thought. They had done a lot of work and widened one section of the freeway to about 20 lanes it felt like. & I Was just STUCK in traffic for the first 60 miles or so. I told dh that it all seemed to be commute - no accidents. & lord knows why so backed up since there seemed to be twice as many lanes as usual, at the worst of it.

As gripey as I was, I can appreciate our own region. The traffic can be pretty terrible for certain commutes, but the commute is fast. It's over and done with within a couple of hours. I Can drive anywhere at 8am or 6pm, and the cars are off the road. & here I am sitting at 8pm, in commute traffic from hell - these people who commute 60+ miles each way so they can afford a house.

Gee, I wished I lived in the middle of nowhere, so I could spend hours in my car every day? That is the life of most of our family and friends. Clearly, we don't *get* it!

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I started reading "Predictably Irrational" yesterday. It is about behavioral economics. Wow, a very interesting read!

There is no doubt some very interesting knowledge to gleam, by reading the book. I am about 50 pages in. I have 2 observations thus far.

1 - Having been raised frugally, I have an extreme leg up. If nothing else, I just haven't necessarily been "trained" in the social norms that the average person has. For example, my first car cost $1500. There was a chapter about price anchoring and how the first cost we associate with an item, tends to leave a particular imprint. I thought about that in terms of cars. If the average person spends $10k-$20k on their first vehicle, and if I spent $1500, then I expect cars to cost significantly less than the average person.

All that said, a lot of that can be erased by the fact that I expect an average home to cost about $800k. Big Grin They pointed out that people that move from High Cost areas to Low cost areas, tend to spend more. Like what they spent in the high cost area. Interestingly, both our homes that we bought cost the same. One was a small condo, and the other is just a large/luxurious house. Same price. I've always been open that prices that seem high to the locals are "dirt cheap" to us. ($300k for a house? A STEAL!) Without that price anchor we probably would have bought a much more modest home.

2 - #2 probably all leads back to #1. For some of the experiments and stuff I didn't quite get it. I just don't think like most people, I suppose. (Don't get me wrong - for a lot of things - I think like most people). But the chapter about "free" stuff was just kind of silly to me. Believe me, I am 100% sure I have acted irrationally for something free here and there. BUT, there were a lot of experiments about the difference between charging a nominal amount (say, a penny or a dollar) for something and how people wouldn't pay it. But they would take it if it were free. Amazon's free shipping was used as an example. Whereas to me, Overstock's $1.99 shipping is just a good as a policy as Amazon's free shipping. Plus, with Overstock, you don't have to spend $25 or whatever to get the $1.99 shipping. They are both BARGAINS when it comes to shipping, to me. There was also mention of people tending to hoarde free stuff that they don't want or need. Just not something I tend to do?

Ugh!

August 25th, 2010 at 09:41 pm

I guess Murphy is here to stay for a while longer. It's been forever? Rolleyes

Another couple of thousand of dental bill, for the kid.

One cracked filling, which I am not thrilled about. Have to look into that one more. (He grinds his teeth? Fine, but I grind my teeth like crazy, and I have some pretty ancient fillings. I wish my dentist would touch him with a ten foot pole. He just refuses to do fillings on kids, though BM doesn't even mind it. That's the only good thing. Or maybe it's bad because he doesn't have a real fear of cavities).

One or 2 new cavities. Rolleyes

Some preventitive work. He finally has 3 molars ready for sealant. (Not that it matters - that's not his cavity problem. But, maybe it will help). They don't bother with the baby teeth. Which is probably fine since not where his cavities are, as I mentioned.

Some more teeth pulled and a retainer. I wouldn't even bother with a second opinion. I know these dentists are good and honest (unlike most I have ever seen), and this is the story of my life. This is why I have been trying to save, well ahead, for orthodontia. I can only blame my genes. & as dh said, they aren't making any money pulling teeth and giving him a retainer. The whole cavity thing was diagnosed by my forever dentist, in the first place.

It is what it is.

We have to be a little better about his hygiene. So we have to treat his teeth like a third child or something - so be it. We know better, but it all kind of fell by the wayside since dh's surgery. Been preoccupied and then got out of our elaborate oral hygiene routine.

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The silver lining is that LM has perfect teeth, like usual. HE is low maintenance, like the rest of us. Cavity wise, anyway. He will probably have horrendous orthodontia bills. But, without losing any teeth yet, he's cheap I guess. Until then...

These dentists are being a little more proactive than mine was a few decades ago. So, I can only hope that helps a little bit with future orthodontia work. I had a LOT of teeth pulled, but nothing like a retainer, so young. Will cross my fingers that it helps.

Here's to better news tomorrow.

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Dh is being all whimpy about his car A/C. I told him I would drive the flipping thing then. Rolleyes I don't think it's an expensive fix, but I could just care less about it right now. Money is flying out the window! I think I rather sweat.

Jinxed It

August 24th, 2010 at 04:56 pm

I've probably said before, but we have never had AC problems before getting newer vehicles. There was one year where I swear just about everyone I knew, who was too proud to buy a used car, or keep a car more than a few years, were all without AC and couldn't afford to fix the AC in their cars. So, you know, you just have to roll your eyes when everyone looks down at your older car choice, but all you know is you have never had to live without AC in your car while it was 110 degrees outside.

So, dh's AC went out last summer. (2001 vehicle - by far one of our newest vehicles). This would be the first AC issue for either of us, in 16 years of car ownership. The mechanic said it was nothing and just recharged the AC. So, no biggie.

It's been about a year. So, Sunday I was driving somewhere and the AC stopped blowing ice cold. I noticed the car starting getting kind of muggy. I kind of shrugged to myself, because it has been unusually cool. I just thought, "Well, it's the end of August, whatever." I can put that one off for quite a few months! Phew.

Of course, the thought did cross my mind that September could be hotter than Hades. Have seen that predicted by the weather experts.

BUT, as quickly as it had stopped working, it kicked back on - ice cold air. Double phew!

I did mention it to dh.

So, today is apparently 106F degrees. {Ironically, the weather forecast says 75F degrees for Sat/Sun. 75F! This is absurd. 106F is a pretty normal summer day for Sacramento}.

So I was talking to dh at some point today, and he tells me, "You are so lucky you didn't drive my car today. It's a million degrees outside and the AC stopped working!"

Aw, crap.

I was going to drive his car today, but he really prefers to drive his car, and he had an errand to run for ME today. I told him if he also got his oil changed, I'd leave him his car. Good move, I suppose. Of course, he wouldn't have had to gone anywhere if not working on my honey do list. Poor guy.

I'm still leaning on ignoring it until next spring. But if September ends up Hotter than Hades, we may change our minds. Honestly, during that summer when everyone's AC was broken I was just, "O.M.G." I think it can be pretty unsafe to be driving around in a hot car when it is well over 100F degrees. With small kids!?! When dh's AC was out I kept an ice cold water bottle with me at all times. I'd just carry a water bottle everywhere and stick it in the freezer between trips. It worked okay, but I Am sure it would be quite easy to get heat stroke if you are not careful.

Anyway, time to break out the old freezer water bottle trick... According to the weather forecast, it is smooth sailing the next 10 days anyway. A whole whopping 75F degrees and all. I can only cross my fingers that September will be normal-ish.

Saving isn't the problem...

August 24th, 2010 at 07:25 am

Aaaaaahhhhhh...

I am not quite sure why the last couple of months have been so crazy. Like the starts aligned. In a bad way.

But this week, I find myself with nothing but free time. How the heck did that happen? I had a very relaxing weekend!

Not much planned for the next 2 weekends, though BM does have a soccer tournament.

I find myself feeling so relaxed and content when I went to bed last night. All I could think was, "What next?" Life - there is always something.

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LM is doing better with school than I ever could imagine. He is in such a GOOD mood. I am furrowing my brow because Mr. Extrovert wild child had a rough adjustment with school. Just a few weeks of being overly tired. Then he adjusted, and that was that.

LM is the complete polar opposite. HE is so sensitive and shy - and obviously he thinks school is the best thing ever. (I've never seen him happier!) I kept telling dh we would have to put him to bed earlier! But no - he is just fine. ???????

Again, what next?

Going from home full-time to school full-time should never be this easy. But, I will enjoy his chipper mood and excitement about school.

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This week will probably go by fast. I have a seminar in San Francisco tomorrow. Will stay with my parents tonight, and probably visit with friends or family for dinner before driving home tomorrow night. I am just winging it.

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The kids have dental and doctor visits this month, and the cat has a follow up appointment (more tests to make sure her infection has cleared). HEck, dh is due for another MRI. We are putting it off a month - until we get back from Hawaii. Didn't want any bad news to put a damper on our trip. Plus, regardless, we have to talk about this whole radiation thing. His doctor thinks he should get it anyway. We just wanted to put it aside for 6 months and regroup. Boy did that 6 months go fast!

Anyway, not something he will talk about in Hawaii!

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I am doing just dandy on my goals. Haven't updated much on them because I am not thrilled with the bigger picture.

I will hit $11k in savings in September, which means I can easily put $4k away in my IRA, as was my goal. (I already put away $1k, so leaves $1k per month for the rest of the year - to meet my goal).

That said, I haven't really increased my savings balance.

About $5k in medical bills, $1k vet bills, $2k to paint house, $1k for dh's TV, $1k for Denver, plus some smaller Hawaii expenses and a mattress for LM.

Yeah, that all adds up to about the $11k I saved. Gee, no wonder I am not getting anywhere.

Boy, this year has been unusual. We just haven't had anything in the realm of this spending, like ever. So, I just have to keep telling myself that. We may have easily had 5 years prior where we didn't have any big purchases. & in the grand scheme of things, it's not horrible. It's just really setting me back on my goals. I just want to get cash to a comfortable spot (for us) so we can move forward with everything else. I feel the cash is an extra pressing goal with the economy. We've been feeling it at work this year, for sure (cut benefits, a layoff, etc.).

I am trying to be patient. Dh tells me that he will probably look for work in one year. I am trying to tell myself that most of my perceived money shortfalls are moot if he is working in the year anyway. But, at the same time, he has spent about 2 of the last 8 years looking for work. So, being ready to work doesn't really mean a lot. (Couldn't find a minimum wage job when the economy was good??? Was very disconcerting. Before getting a degree, finding a crap job was never a problem). We have always realized that he may have to return to University to get his foot in the door. So, in one year's time, will we be flush with income? Or deep in University bills? Or just spinning our wheels some more.

I can't talk about most of this stuff with anyone. To my friends? "You have no non-mortgage debts, and your spouse hasn't worked in almost a decade? What are you worried about????" Plus, we are rare with home equity. Their answer would just be to borrow from the home, in emergency. (That's not "real" debt!)

Of course, if I wasn't worried, I could quite easily fall into financial disarray. Trying to stay where I am at. It's not easy as it looks, I suppose. I don't think most people realize that life isn't all roses and peaches just because you make certain financial goals. It's always work. IT may be easier, but it will always be work to strive for financial comfort. Plus, since having kids, we have mostly slid backwards. Have always considered this rather temporary. I am used to saving more, and more cash in the bank! It's hard to slide backwards once you are used to a certain level of comfort.

This & That

August 22nd, 2010 at 09:01 am

**Another one bites the dust. A couple who married last summer is now separating. Ouch.

It is one of dh's friends. I was just teasing him about how his friends all divorce (& so quickly, to boot). His reply was my friends are all single - can't get a man or something. LOL. But, we were having that conversation, and then, the next day he finds out his friend is headed towards a divorce. Ouch!

**Everyone has been begging for money. Teachers and school, of course. But, with the economy and all, funding is being cut, parents are giving less cash, etc., etc. Then I got an e-mail about how the soccer league is so broke, too. Less funding, and on and on and on. We were asked to provide money for a banner. Well, told to. IT was like - "you owe $10." I suppose we will have a lot more nickel and diming. (When we did little league 2 years ago - everything was covered in the registration fee - but these days, seems a little different).

Anyway, I feel like a walking dollar sign. Meanwhile, this is one of our more rougher years financially. As is, for most people around here.

**The weather is absurd, here. IT was a record cool day, at 79F degrees. 79? In August? It's usually 100 degrees.

We actually stayed indoors, because my parents and their friends visited yesterday. Today I feel refreshed and would like to do a pile of chores. But, we should probably go outside and enjoy this weather a bit. I am sure we could work that out, for a short time. Maybe some soccer practice.

**Not spending any money this weekend, I suppose. Phew!

$$$$$

August 19th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

While the price of everything is going up, the price of something went down????

School lunch.

School lunches were a no brainer at $2/pop. Well rounded - lots of fruits and veggies. Plus, the simplicity.

They went up to $2.50 last year, which isn't horrible, but also not quite the steal that they were before.

But, this year, $2.25. Woohoo!

I just can't believe the price of something went down. Will see how long that lasts...

The Big Picture

August 19th, 2010 at 07:24 am

Suze had an interesting segment last week.

A younger guest (45) seemed to have a good income and a hell of a lot of assets.

But, Suze drilled down deeper and pointed out that though she had plenty of cash and retirement funds for her age, her net worth was actually quite low due to her 2 mortgaged properties (one upside down). In addition, she had co-signed another mortgage, which put her net worth at negative.

Ouch!

A good reminder to always look at the big picture!

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I just thought it was a really good segment.

I think I am pretty good at looking at the big picture with my finances.

BUT, I often run across the types who own multiple homes and are always getting into more and more debt. Some of them are just a mess (no assets to show for it). But others seem to have some financial savvy. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing it all wrong. If I hadn't paid off so much on my house (large down payment), maybe I could have significantly more assets. Hmmmmmm.

But, as I watch Suze, I giggled to myself. I realized the more savvy people who were casting doubt in my mind were all likely to have a negative net worth, anyway. Isn't it funny that I had never really thought about that before? Too blindsided by that extra $100k in liquid assets? Forgot they had 3 times as much debt as us?

It's like dh's sister, who bought a $700k-ish home on an ARM. I remember telling dh they were either really stupid or they were going to be rich. IF real estate kept going up, they could make out pretty sweet. ($700k buys a 2-bedroom shack where they live - it's nothing glorious). In the end - they may squeak by - too early to tell. The home has not appreciated since they bought, but they have been able to refi to stay afloat (not sure if they went fixed or not). They aren't upside down by any means - they bought with equity from a condo. Meaning, they may have turned a short stint as condo owners into an extra $200k or so cash down. Too early to tell, I suppose, but lord forbid either one ever gets sick or loses a job.

Dh and I are just not willing to set ourselves up for that big fall. We are too risk adverse. Without the risk, we lose the chance to make some extra dough, yes. BUT, we aren't setting ourselves up to splat on our face, either. I mean, heck, this is the entire reason we moved to our lower cost of living haven. Neither of us could stomach the debt to buy a modest home. It didn't make any sense for the big picture. But, very few even look at the big picture.

Honey Do List & Priorities

August 17th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Well, so far so good (knock on wood). LM had a great first day of "all day" school. He's only been going 3 hours a day for 3 weeks.

I think the pre-K program was extremely helpful! HE was so chipper last night, that I started to wonder if going to school was taking less energy than being home with brother all day. Could be. I remember BM being very cranky the first few weeks of school - and he has tons of energy. It's just quite an adjustment.

It's only one day - so will see.

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If you asked dh, I think he'd tell you the best part is being able to sleep in! Not that he has gotten to yet. But, soon enough.

I usually either work Saturdays or go to aerobics at dawn. SO, he gets Sundays to sleep in. BUT, easier said than done, with kids who like to wake up and dawn. SO, he now gets 2-3 mornings a week while I take the kids to school. (I could care less about sleeping in. I rather go to bed early - which I do often).

I am working on a honey do list, but it isn't very long. Yet. I am used dh doing a lot for me, and don't really intend to add to his load too much. But I am thinking of a couple of things that need to be taken care of with his newfound free time.

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The other nice things is lunch dates. We always do lunch dates (more economical), but we have to plan them eons in advance, it seems.

Now we have our pick of 5 days a week. Big Grin

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When BM started Kinder, it was a shift from a simpler life to more complexity. We really hadn't had much of any schedule for a long time. School is very schedule-y. Lots to plan around.

LM starting school is kind of the polar opposite. WE are used to the schedule now, and he shares it with BM. This just frees up a lot of time for dh. So, it's making life simpler, for the moment.

Dh and I will definitely enjoy. Before long, I expect he will be working again, and life will then be much more busy. So, we are definitely enjoying the slower pace for a time.

I could ask dh to help me with a lot more, but I feel content. I don't really need help with anything. The thought crossed my mind that if he was so free, I could ask him to take the kids for a day, Saturday or Sunday. But, I don't need a break, and nothing I need to do, so, eh.

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I had another weekend with cranky moms...

I thought to all of the talk of simpler living, recently.

I looked at this blog earlier, as recommended by another blogger.

[urlhttp://smallnotebook.org/[/url]

I did like it. One of the first blog posts really struck with me.

http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/2/

The Hierarchy of Cleaning...

Clean yourself
Clean your clothes
clean the trash/dishes
Worry about the rest later...

That sums it up pretty well. Big Grin

That one stuck with me because, that is completley my style of cleaning, for one. Secondly, cleaning is an area where I don't see moms being very practical. They are stressed out, they are tired, they are a mess, and they still spend hours every day cleaning. I don't quite understand why.

I've always thought, "Thank goodness I am not a neat freak."

But, as a mom friend griped to me over the weekend, I realized that there was no rhyme and reason to her priorities. She was telling me she had no time for x, y, and z (no idea how I did it), but she was spending all this energy on a, b and c, and I wasn't quite sure why.

For example, her child has been at school one full year and she asked me how the buying lunch thing worked. My jaw about hit the floor. They eat out every night, but she makes lunch for her kid every single day? Seriously? It just struck me as odd.

Anyway, I know I come across off as the "Do it all Mom" to my friends. (They've all said it to me). Which is completely ridiculous!

The truth is I am the "Ask for help" mom and the "Cut a lot of corners" mom. I am definitely the "I know how to say no" mom.

That hierarchy of chores said it pretty well. I do what needs to be done. I am good at prioritizing. I don't generally go around bragging about all the corners I cut. In fact, most people would look at me like I was crazy if I told them. But the end result is a MUCH simpler lifestyle. (Should I brag about it more? It's not like I even care, but the same moms always look horrified when you mention the corners you cut, so you can't win).

An example? I don't bathe my kids every night. (I grew up in drought country, and I think it is a ridiculous waste of water AND time). But most people think this is crazy talk! But, by only cleaning the kids when they NEED it, I save myself a couple of hours a week. That is just one example of MANY. I see quite easily why I have so much free time compared to most my mom friends.

So, is prioritizing the key to a simple lifestyle?

I don't know if it's key, but it is a skill that is just kind of inherent in my nature. I have always been pretty good at prioritizing, since I was a small child. I do think that it makes life easier.

There's probably a lot more to simplicity, than just prioritizing. But it's probably a very good first step.

Farmers Market

August 15th, 2010 at 08:42 am

We don't necessarily need a Farmers market. Um, we have farms within walking distance (one or two that sell produce).

But, that said, we did get our own Farmers Market, this week.

The sad thing was that it was right by the library and we didn't see it. I suggested they need more signs. Though sounds like they sold out fast and maybe it had mostly wound down by the time we were in the area. We just had no idea that was going on a few feet away from us.

SO, what we have is a Farmers Market Saturday mornings through summer (residents are hoping to extend that to year round). It's right by our new library. AND we are getting lights in on the freeway overpass, so we may feel comfortable enough to ride bikes over there. It is probably about a mile away - if that. There is also a huge park/bike path over there. We can't ride to anything particularly useful at the moment (stores) because the freeway overpass is such a dangerous obstacle. So, the combo of all this stuff is pretty sweet.

I look forward to some nice Saturday mornings, next year. Big Grin We can go on a ride, exchange books at the library, and bring home some fresh produce. I really like the sound of it.

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I've got so much "homework." I filled out reams of paper while the kids played, yesterday. (School paperwork). I have to write a pile of checks and update Quicken.

I took BM to practice soccer last night (on our own) but couldn't find a ball to practice. Remembered one maybe went over the fence, and the other one was too small and not inflated.

We borrowed a neighbor's ball, but BM still has a gift certificate from his birthday, which lord knows what we would use it on since he just got a billion toys.

SO, using it for a soccer ball, or 2, is a good start. I think 2 is good for when we lose the first one. Big Grin

Anyway, practice was good for 2 reasons. First - he was a natural when he tried. He was kind of running away from the ball at practice. So I told him we needed to practice! I Told him to play like that at practice, and he said okay. He may be too goofy for it - just not taking it seriously. He sure took it seriously against me, and kicked my butt.

Secondly - in the goofball area - he acted like he was exhausted after an hour of practice last week. He kept laying on the field. This is my HIGH energy kid.

So we practice on the local soccer field last night. Holy heck is that field BIG. I have a new appreciation that BM is just really exhausted. I about passed out. LOL.

But, all the more reason to practice. OUr weather is still unusually cool, so we need to just go out there every other night or so and run around the field. Could be good for my waistline, too, if I survive. I do admit I wasn't a great opponent because I couldn't keep up with him at all. Big Grin I exercise plenty, but more speed walking than long term sprinting!

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Today we are going to the pool and having friends over for a simple dinner.

Trying to enjoy the last bits of summer. Our pool usually closes Labor Day and I am realizing that summer will be over very soon. School doesn't really change the summer-y feel for me. The kids just go to school while I am at work, so eh. We are still enjoying SUMMER here. But, boy, where did it go???

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh...

August 14th, 2010 at 10:50 am

The last 2 weeks have seemed like pure chaos.

So, I am looking forward to a very relaxing weekend! Not much planned.

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**Kitty is feeling MUCH better. The antibiotics shouldn't really do much for another day or so, but she has been obviously feeling much better since she got home.

She does have an infection, so waiting for culture results to make sure we have the correct antibiotics.

Dh told me he REALLY liked this place and wants to make them our main vet. We used to have a pet rat, which was the only reason we chose the vet we did. They had a rat vet. But, no complaints, otherwise. Dh was just super impressed with this new vet.

I will only hope we don't need them again. Big Grin Obviously we will at some point - our kitty is getting old.

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**Decided to check out the new library.

I utilized the library MUCH more when the kids were younger.

They opened a new one down the street (much more convenient), but it is a high school library too, so was only open weekdays, 8-5.

There was much debate about this. Every time someone complained, everyone else would say, "It's for the high school. Get over it" MEanwhile, it's the Taj Mahal of libraries. It has a huge little kid section. So, screw the working parents??? Was that the plan? Clearly it was not just built for the high school!

Thankfully, common sense reined. I read recently it was open Saturdays now. I was thinking a couple of hours here and there. So today I just remembered and decided to take the kids.

Looked up the hours. 9 - 5? Wow - better than I thought!

Dh kept saying, "Of course you have been there." Sure, when? 9-5 M-F? I don't think so. Clueless non-working people. LOL. No - I have never been, and I look forward to checking it out.

The kids don't think the library is that exciting. *sigh* I think that will improve with age. BM is a VORACIOUS reader - don't get me wrong. They both LOVE being read to. But then I am surprised BM doesn't want to read more. He just reads what we expect of him to read (the bare minimum!). I think the video games and the like win. We didn't have all those distractions when we were kids.

On the flip side, I should probably understand. I find I do not enjoy reading so much as an adult. I have gotten accustomed to everything else being at such a fast pace. I now equate reading to "time consuming." But am trying to set a better example, all the same, and get back into it.

Interesting Quickies

August 13th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

**I swear it was just yesterday that I Was wishing to myself that there were more enterprising teens in our neighborhood - offering to mow lawns, etc.

No sooner than I thought it?

I got a flyer for $10 to mow/edge the lawn. Would really only be $20/month.

BUT, then again, we have the most awesome gardener ever ($80/month). He has our grass and trees thriving, and I don't remember the last time I saw a weed. *sigh*

So, I will keep this guy's number in case we are desparate or our gardener quits or something. I think we are fine with less service, now that we have a little more time (& less stress). BUT, by the same token, when you have something REALLY good, you don't want to give it up. It won't last forever, so might as well enjoy it.

The mowing is really the easy part - we could handle that - it's the rest I worry about!

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But seriously in almost 9 years living here, I have never gotten an offer from a KID, to mow the lawn. I think it's a good thing!

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Check out this link at My Money Blog:

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/price-relativity-and-the-search-f...

I only saw the question about if I would drive 15 miles to save $7 on a $450-ish suit.

I had 2 comments:

1 - I would never buy a $450 suit (it was posed as a frugal question - so I giggled at that).

2 - I admitted I felt like I would be more likely to drive 15 miles to save $7, if it was a lower cost item.

*ding ding ding*

& so I nailed it on the head. About the same amount of people said they would drive 15 miles to save $7 on a $25 pen, but wouldn't drive 15 miles to save $7 on a $450 suit.

Is there a right or wrong answer here? Probably not.

I just had to giggle at the comments about the horrificness of wasting the time and gas to save $7. But when it's a pen, it was okay. I am pleased to say that to me, $7 was $7. I may choose not to take the time for $7. But the cost of the item didn't have a huge impact on my decision. I do admit it did have some impact thought, and maybe more substantial impact as the price goes up (or down). Kind of interesting - so had to share.

I told dh I am just too dang logical. Big Grin HE would have answered the exact same way though. So he wasn't very impressed.

Vet Emergency

August 13th, 2010 at 07:25 am

Last night was fun!

Our cat has been a little off since we came back from vacation. Last night, dh was volunteering at the TV station really late, and the cat was trying to pee all over the house. At first I Was really annoyed and trying to shoo her (which she could care less about - even more frustrating) when I realized she was straining but nothing coming out. She was also being pretty loud, so at that point it was obvious she was in pain.

I didn't think much more than we'd take her to the vet in the morning.

But, as I look it up online, for whatever reason, the first thing I see is that a cat who can not pass urine, is an emergency. Great!

I realized I couldn't wait until morning, but obviously no huge rush. So I was taking my time to try and find an emergency vet. The most promising one (affordable and best reviews) would not answer their phone. I might have tried to call for 10 minutes. I then called dh, and he just happened to be on his way home early. Phew!!!! He is a night owl and offered to take her in so I could get some sleep, and so the kids could sleep. Thank Goodness!

I settled on place with all good reviews, but for price complaints. The others were all pretty expensive too.

I told dh, "I don't know if these reviewers who freak out about a $50 bill - since most people probably are." & he pointed out any emergency service would be expected to be more expensive.

So, off he went with the cat. I actually reached a human and they said definitely bring her in.

Dh must have talked to someone else when he got there because someone told him there was no emergency if she was female. (When I called they had asked me and I said they were female). I told him that was not what they told me! Later he called me and told me he would be waiting a long time (lots of real emergencies) and that they were now quoting him $500. I was getting annoyed, because they told me $89 for an exam when I called. This was just whoever was at the front desk - no doctor. I asked him to ask if we could just take her in the morning - if it wasn't an emergency after all. Our vet, most likely. Dh said, he already packed her up and everything, rather just get it taken care of.

By then I fell asleep until dh got home. They couldn't find anything wrong, and are assuming she has a UTI now. It's interesting because we took her in for one a few months back and they said it was nothing. It seemed to resolve itself. But will be a few days before results.

$500 when all was said and done. It was not a lot more expensive than our last visit. The appointment maybe cost a little more, but the other charges were mostly the same. In addition, she did get x-rays and antibiotics - why it added up to so much.

The good? We saved $30 because we got there a few minutes before 11pm. Phew! Prices went up after that.

She's 12. I suppose this is the year - or we should get used to it. We usually never take her to the vet because she FREAKS out. Lucky her - twice in one year! She didn't scratch our eyes out, so phew!

They told us her X-rays were fine, but that she has arthiritis. This may explain whey she has always had a bit of an intermittent limp. They said she had pretty severe arthiritis. Ouch! It sucks to get old.

In the end, being unable to pass urine is an emergency. In her case, she was fine when she got there, and urinated plenty. Figures, huh?

When dh took her in I was looking up prices. Up to $1500 if she had an obstruction. I told dh I was fine with a $1500 bill, before I fell asleep. So $500 was a bit of a relief.

At least I don't have EIGHT cats, like my sis. She just doesn't have the means for that. One cat can be pricey enough!

Scored Gold

August 12th, 2010 at 07:43 pm

In my quest for a swimsuit.

http://www.beallsflorida.com/

The pickings are slim this time of year.

The low of my search was finding swimsuits I loved, only available in size 2X - 3X. Apparently, as a mom with a less that petite derrier, I am supposed to prance around in a string bikini. Rolleyes

Anything modest is reserved for Big Girls? Like averaged size women don't have a number done on them in childbirth... Though it could be more the clearance racks than anything - more skewed than usual.

So, anyway, I found the CUTEST looking swimdress on this beallsflorida site for $29. I came to it as I looked for the brand of my old tankini top - which was apparently very expensive at retail value (nothing on ebay under $50 - for a swim top!)

So, I found this site, and salivated over the suit, though the one size available was iffy. IT may fit fine, or be a bit small. Dresses are not my thing since my lower half is 3 or 4 sizes bigger than my top half!

But, it's gorgeous! A very flattering fit for the pear girl. I'd share a picture, but it's all sold out now. (I suppose I could model it...)

It retails $75, and looks like one of those $75 suits. Now, I will just hope dh doesn't ever wash it - and it lasts 5 years or something. Big Grin

I am going to return a couple of other pieces I bought. I got some really nice swim shorts at Kohls for $13.99, and a nice top at Target (that I don't expect will hold up great - that is the way of Target).

I will return a couple of the others that just didn't fit as well. (I ended up buying everything online since nothing in the stores).

Which means, I now have more than one swimsuit, too. Maybe it's not so bad dh ruined my aging swim top.

The shorts I got are multi colored and don't match all the tops. SO, I will keep an eye out for swim shorts next summer. Solid colors. I usually do the skirt thing, but these are much more comfortable and flattering, I think.

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BM and I finished our taste test today. It was just a lot more tasting. Too much to fit in one day, I suppose.

Oh, today was SO much better.

The marketing made me giggle. It was like candy bars, selling as "made for kids," "healthy and organic." REALLY big on the PROTEIN. Like a protein bar.

I wrote in the comment section, "I don't buy candy bars for their nutrition." Rolleyes

All the while thinking, there is more to a well rounded diet than protein, and how silly it is to push ORGANIC on highly processed foods.

The stuff we ate yesterday was the likes of splenda and olestra. It was pretty terrible. I just can't help but point out the irony of clearly non natural food being pushed as healthy and organic. Ugh!

Ouch!

August 12th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

For some reason I was thinking that the school fees were "per family" or something along those lines.

Maybe they were, last year.

So, BM brings home a pile of paperwork yesterday.

$25/each for supplies. Eh.

$60/each for field trips. That's adding up...

$10/each for school spirit shirts (donation requested for this, anyway)

That's a grand total of $190. Yikes!

That's not the worst of it. The 3rd, 4th, 5th graders had field trip fees of $120-$150. Egads! What the heck kind of field trips do they go on?

Last year we decided to make our "big" donation to the school. (We donate $250 every year, around Christmas, where we see fit).

This year, I am thinking, I don't know about that...

I think this year is going to be a volunteer year. Dh has the time and intent, so I don't think we will be big on cash this year - to the school.

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I actually kept $100 in my checking account for this month, anticipating these kind of expenses. But apparently I way under-estimated.

Good thing I am earning $100 tonight from our focus group. I will tell BM that he earned himself his supplies and field trips for the year. & a t-shirt.

Mental note: It will be a lot more next year!

Our Taste Test...

August 12th, 2010 at 07:26 am

I still am not sure why the taste test is over 2 days, or what we will do today.

BM and I joked that they want to see if the food made us sick, or if we are still alive.

He said, "I think the first question will be - Are you dead?" LOL.

Needless to say, the food we tasted was really BLECH. The only one that tasted good was a more oatmeal/raisin one. The rest were chocolate, brownie, peanut butter, etc.

I got the impression they were trying to go for a healthy angle on completely unhealthy type food. Which rarely works out very well. I felt kind of sick when we left.

So, I don't know what tonight will entail, but I would recommend just sticking to fruit flavors or something. Forget the fake peanut butter and chocolate. BLECH.

The funny thing is I don't like raisins in my granola bars or cookies. I like them standalone. So I mark off on my form that I don't like bars with raisins in them. MEanwhile, it was the only one I liked, and it was REALLY good.

If they want to be so natural and healthy, why not just put fruit in it? Rocket science, huh? Big Grin

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Anyway, we will get our $100 for the taste test, tonight.

Oh yeah, and we ran into our neighbor there. Pretty funny. In a city of millions, and my neighbor down the street shows up to this small focus group.

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Well, we all survived the first day of school. I think LM had a good day, overall. They just go 3 hours a day, and then REAL school starts next week. So, that will be interesting! 7 hours a day...

But I think he will see BM more, and the neighbor kids (many in 1st grade) when he goes to school all day. So, I think he will adjust quickly.

This year, he gets out 45 minutes before BM, which is kind of obnoxious. On the plus side, 2 of our neighbors seem to work intermittently, so we could probably trade off picking up the older kids. BEfore, I Wasn't sure we had much option, since most those kids go to after school care. But, I have been seeing their dads home more and more - they both work more on contract. So, I realized we should at least talk to them and ask for help. We could trade.

Today, dh is also watching another kid in the afternoon. In exchange, they are picking up BM for us. I think dh is going to have a lot of these type days, for this year. Next year will be a lot easier, when the kids are on the same schedule.

It's a Mom Thing...

August 11th, 2010 at 07:23 am

Why is it, that you can't wait for your kids to be independent enough to start school? & then you cry your eyes out when they do?!?

This is definitely a mom thing. Dh may be the one home with the kids more, but he seems completely unaffected by the fact they are aging by the second. Today when we walk home after dropping the kids off from school, I will bawl my eyes out all the way home (I did on BM's first day on Kinder) and dh will probably do a happy dance because he is FREE.

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All that said, while BM wouldn't blink about us leaving him in a strange place all day, LM is a little more finicky, stubborn, and sensitive, etc., etc.

So, I have had a little more anxiety about how this day would go.

BUT, he took to the pre-K program very well, and he got to meet his teacher and classroom yesterday, and seemed very happy.

SO, I expect he will happily go off with his class today. PHEW! I thought he may be the one kid crying, "Don't leave me!!!!!!!"

I expect today will be easy on him, but hard on me.

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It's bittersweet. I am happy for the kids, and for dh. It is a joyous day on many levels. But, it's also a day that you can't help but realize your kids are growing up very fast. We are moving past a very special time in our lives.

Vacation Totals / Crazy Week

August 10th, 2010 at 07:48 am

Well, this is turning out to be a crazy week.

I actually got picked for a focus group (well, my son did). As I answered the questions, I knew I wouldn't qualify, as usual.

I am a little peeved because they said they had slots W & Th. I thought they meant a one hour focus group or something. But then they tell me it is W & Th, both, after I agree. Ugh. Of course, more infuriating, is dh answered the phone when they called, and asked if he could do the focus group with his son. No, just the mom! The funny thing is I usually don't qualify because I don't do any household shopping for the most part. Which is fine, since dh has more time for these things. BUT, in this case, they clearly assumed moms do all the shopping. They didn't even ask. Which I am sure would disqualify me immediately.

They also asked a lot of questions about organic stuff, which I could care less about. It's not that I don't see any merits in organic food, but I just am not willing to pay a small fortune just because something is labeled organic. & I guess I don't care enough to look into it further. So, when they start asking all those questions, I figured I was out.

But, by some miracle I am in, and it pays $100. In the grand scheme of things, easy money. I can meet dh downtown with the kid, right after work, so it shouldn't be too bad. I don't have time to come home and pick him up and everything.

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This is the most expensive vacation we have probably every paid for. Grand total? $1600.

Airfare was $1100 of that, so about $500 otherwise. Even our Disney trip wasn't quite that expensive - but we didn't have to pay for airfare. (We tend to drive).

& I know my MIL is peeved because she always offer to pay for our trips to get us to go places we don't have the means or time to go, otherwise. So, I could tell she was rather put off that we went on this trip. Rolleyes (Truth is, my mom gave me $600 to cover some airfare, which puts us right at $1k out of pocket).

Airfare $1100
Hotel $150
Rental car $150
rental car seat $50
Food/Misc. $100
Airport parking/Gas $50

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We ended up rather spoiled on the food front. My Grandma treated us to 2 lunches, and dh's recently divorced friend treated us to one dinner. Dh was not happy with this as we had agreed beforehand that obviously we would treat as there were 4 of us. He simply said, "This is a lot cheaper than dating."

So, that was unexpected.

Reminds me, dh's friend also told us about his recent $400 trip to Cabo, or something. In the lap of luxury. We both sighed. Those were the days. I traveled all over the country on pennies, when it was just me. Big Grin

So that means we only really paid for 3 meals, and some breakfast food. I guess it adds up fast. We also bought my Grandma a few things. In return, she gave the kids $5/each for their piggy banks. I think that works out well.

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My Grandma's new place in an assisted living facility, is divine. Just gorgeous. They had a little park right out behind the place, where the kids spent a lot of time.

I think with more assistance, the place costs something like $5k/month. OF course, she has since been way downgraded. I don't know what she is paying now. BUT, dh's Grandma pays $3k/month to live in a very crappy place. It's okay, but maybe one star compared to this 5 star place. The only reason being that dh's Grandma wants to be by her family, and they live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This place was completely night and day. It had much more older and more helpless people, that is for sure. The lunch we had there was kind of funny - it is all gourmet menu. I kept telling her not to worry - that the kids will eat anything. Then they served lamb with mint jelly. LOL. The other residents told us the food is always weird. I had just assumed it would be more buffet like anywhere else I had been.

I know my Grandma has had a tough time of it, and was very weak. But, for the most part, she refused any help, was of very sound mind, and was pretty intent on getting up and moving around. So, I think she is doing well.

Of course, there is money/family drama. Another post for another day.

Actually, we were extremely helpful, and so was a nice and a productive trip. We helped with a few little things and a run to the store, etc. I also believe I was instrumental in help solving some of the money/family problems. I had suggested she talk to her CPA, because we help some of our elderly clients with paying the bills and such. She is very close with her CPA, and in the end, he offered to help her for free. She just figured he was too busy, and hasn't been great about asking for help. I told dh that obviously he didn't know the situation or would step in. I told her that we help our clients all the time and would be worth checking with him. I'd offer to help, but having her bills paid in California didn't make much sense, and I think it was good to get a 3rd party involved. So, will see how that works out.

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I almost forgot. Dh spent about 2 hours getting some family history and some of her stories, on tape. Priceless!

He does plan to spend a good chunk of the next year getting our own home videos edited down, and working on our parents' life videos. He got his grandfather on tape in Florida, and I should encourage him to get his local Grandma on tape, sooner rather than later. The rest are long gone... The sad thing is most of their friends and relatives are gone, too. So, dh has been motivated to work on our parents' videos, while he has a lot more to work with.

Had a Pleasant Trip

August 9th, 2010 at 09:30 am

Probably one of our more pleasant travel experiences.

When I went through air security in Sacramento, I forgot to take all my liquids out of my bag, but no one cared.

Denver seemed much more fierce, so as I piled my shoes, jackets, liquids, laptop, and helped the kids with their shoes and jackets, I just thought, "This is RIDICULOUS!" I think we had like 10 bins, and I felt sorry for anyone traveling with infants and formula and diapers and all that jazz. Strollers, carseats, etc.

It's 100 times easier to travel, now that we have past that age.

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Of course, that said, being a little flustered cost us $50. Ouch!

We parked in the economy lot at the airport, which was awesome by the way. The shuttle was pulling up just as we parked, and frankly, we were cutting it a bit close. It took us longer to park than we imagined, and we were totally fine. Just wondered how long we'd have to wait for the shuttle and how long the security lines were. Our flight left in an hour.

So, when we saw the shuttle, we RAN out of the car and boarded the bus. IT wasn't until about an hour later as we were boarding the plane, did we see all these parents with carseats. Dh and I looked at each other. We had forgotten LM's booster seat. Doh! We didn't even realize, in our haste.

Dh felt the logical conclusion was to rent one. I did not think this was a logical conclusion at all. For one, I rented an infant seat once, and I swear they had the thing from the 1970s. My aunt saved the day and let us borrow her more modern/clean carseat. I am not a neat freak by any means, but that thing was disgusting!

So, thinking to that, I told dh, "Well, I didn't rent one in the first place because it was expensive, and probably disgusting to boot."

He was still pretty insistent, when we got to the car rental place. Meanwhile, we had nothing but time, and our GPS to go find a Target or whatever. I said, "Use your judgement. We can buy one for $20, probably."

HE was also telling me he was going to ask the car rental people what the carseat laws were. Rolleyes I regretted not looking them up. I was going to, but dh had insisted we just take it along, so I didn't look anything up. Like I believe whatever they say - they want to charge an arm and a leg for you to rent one.

SO, they tell him $13/day, and he rents the seat. When he tells me this, I am NOT happy at all. 3 days x $13 - $39. I'd rather buy a seat and donate it at the end of the trip. Selling it would be quite possible too.

Dh tells me it's 2 days, and I point out we are paying for 3 days. UGH!

IT gets better. When we drop off the car, they charge us $50. We are peeved, but have to get going. We had enough time to sit and go through it and fight it and whatever, but felt kind of rushed all the same, as the billion people were dropping off their rental cars.

SO, we got to the airport and were eating, and I start looking over the receipt. We had already prepaid and I wasn't thrilled to be charged another $50. I finally found what it was. $39 carseat (told you so, dh) + 25% taxes/fees on it. So came out to about $49. I shot dh the evil eye, but that's the last I will bring it up. What's done is done! He usually has much better judgement. Rolleyes

The irony was the guy at the car rental place told us the kids had to be in booster seats to age 8, and I just rolled my eyes. When we got to the hotel I looked it up, and sure enough, that law had taken into affect just a few days before we arrived! Figures. Not that it mattered much. Old law/new law/our own comfort, we would have gotten LM a carseat, regardless. He just turned 5, and their old law, and our law, is to age 6.

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Anyway, the trip was very nice, so more on that later.

I am relieved today is rather calm. A day to recover.

Though one of my more pleasant traveling experiences, I REALLY missed my bed. Oh, my aching back. I slept like a baby last night, at home.

School Starts Next Week

August 7th, 2010 at 07:34 am

It will be here in a blink!

I suppose this year is very interesting as we move on to another phase of our life. The last 8 years or so have been pretty difficult (yet, so rewarding!). I have such mixed feelings about dh possibly returning to work. We have gotten accustomed to a much simpler life. BUT, we are also aggressive savers, and miss having a second income to blow through all of our savings goals.

As such, I have told dh, he may just need to work long enough to pay off the mortgage. Honestly, he only worked post-college/full-time, about 2 years. It made a tremendous difference to our savings. 2 more years would do the same.

But anyway, as school starts next week, our cost of working goes down considerably (no daycare needed? For 30 hours a week?)

Will see. We will not proceed with anything drastic. I don't expect more than very part time work, this next year.

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We found out who LM's teacher will be. Was disappointed because we had no idea who this teacher was. ??? I theorized maybe the teacher got married and changer her name. I wasn't coming up with much from this angle, or from googling this new teacher's name.

SO, I finally just googled the missing teacher's name, and quickly found out what was going on (& why we didn't know).

Um, the teach is pregnant with quadruplets. Holy cow!

Put on disability, of course. OF course, she blogged this in late July, so she probably just told the school.

So, this teacher was a rather last minute hire, it seems. Will see how that goes!

Little Updates

August 4th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

**BM started soccer practice yesterday.

It works out. The practice is actually right down the street from our gym. Yesterday, we all went (out of curiosity) but I didn't see much. They weren't doing much, and so LM and I went to the gym for a bit.

Practice is long enough that I probably could drop off BM, walk to the gym, work out almost an hour, and pick him back up. So, this could work out well.

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**While at the gym, dh told me he thought the ice cream place over there had discounted ice cream on Tuesday nights. I looked around 6:30pm, and sure enough, $1 ice cream scoops from 6-8pm. I didn't look that carefully, but I don't think anyone was there.

SO, we went over there after practice. AND, the line was out the door and around the corner. We actually got in line, which was insane. Clearly we would be there all night. I told dh, "Um, Rite Aid????" The kids were upset about this. I had never eaten this place's ice cream. But Rite Aid is always something like a buck for a scoop, and their ice cream is DIVINE. If this place was better, maybe its best I didn't know.

Finally talked the rest of them into it - by pointing at the clock. It was almost 8pm!

So, we get to Rite Aid, and there are people with ice cream all over the place. Some, PAYING for their ice cream. & then, we get to the ice cream, and the place is "CLOSED FOR CLEANING." Seriously? What did we miss it by? One minute??? Gah.

So, they were selling ice cream tubs for $2.50. After much negotiations, we settled on some strawberry cheesecake ice cream, as well as some 50-cent ice cream sandwhiches for the kids.

Of course, when we pay, we are told the ice cream is $3.50. How obnoxious. There was nothing on the label that said "card members only," or anything like that. Rolleyes

So then dh grumbles all the way home that he will never buy anything there again. (But ice cream scoops, anyway).

Thus, was our adventure.

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I need to look closely at August tonight. I do know we spent way too much.

I was doing some financial chores this morning, but didn't have enough time to look at August. I was updating all our interest for August, and transferring savings, etc.

I was able to transfer money into my higher interest online savings. It had been a while. Seems like medical bills and big maintenance bills, here and there. A luxury TV purchase thrown in for good measure.

So, my money has been coming out of savings about as fast as I put it in. Which means, I haven't made any deposits into my higher interest savings in a while!

BUT, today I transferred $1k to savings. Phew. Let's hope I can keep this momentum...

Duh, It's Illegal!

August 4th, 2010 at 06:57 am

Did anyone see this article? Rolleyes

6 Money Habits That Are Illegal

http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/110219/6-...

1 - Signing someone's name on a check
2 - Using someone else's identity to obtain credit
3 - LYING on a home loan application
4 - Writing bad checks
5 - Copying U.S. Currency
6 - Defacing U.S. Currency

"Forgery. Loan fraud. Counterfeiting. These and other financial crimes might seem like a far cry from most people's everyday lives. But it's surprisingly easy to adopt a dicey financial habit under the guise of "everyone does it," "I was just trying to help" or "it seemed like a good idea at the time.""

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I probably would forge my husband's signature on a check, and that's about it. Because it would be with his permission. I actually never have because I couldn't forge it if I tried. Not my forte! But I can guarantee he wish I did when I woke him up the other morning to sign some checks so I could deposit them. Big Grin

The home loan is my pet peeve - probably because everyone went around bragging about that one for a long time. But it wouldn't occur to these people that this is part of the problem and a big reason why real estate is in the mess it is. I know lenders are plenty to blame, but so are the people who played along.

Actually, it's my pet peeve because people in foreclosure, etc., etc., will still justify that they just "fudged a little." No biggie. Didn't hurt anyone in the process, right??? I've had this conversation over and over. You just want to bang your head on a wall.

Beware: Air Duct Cleaning Offers

August 3rd, 2010 at 07:10 am

To piggyback onto Analise's experience - I saw this article in the paper:

Beware of air duct cleaning offers, Better Business Bureau warns

http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/01/2926895/beware-of-air-duct-...

"Is air duct cleaning even necessary?

Probably not, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms/illnesses, and a visual inspection inside the air ducts "shows no indication of large deposits of dust or mold (and) no musty odor or visible mold growth, having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary," according to the EPA's website."

ALSO:

"In what it calls "investigative shoppings," the BBB office set up seven appointments and paid for air duct cleanings at the homes of BBB employees or acquaintances.

Its conclusion: The air duct cleanings by the six firms were "superficial at best," and the companies engaged in "aggressive tactics" to sell unnecessary services and/or expensive equipment, including furnace cleanings, new filters, extended warranties, mold eradication, chemical sanitization and ultraviolet lights.

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I think a huge key to saving money is knowing what maintenance is really necessary. I notice that my family (extended family, too), in general, does not spend a lot of money on maintenance type things. But we do take care of our things, and they do tend do last a long time. For example, my dad was just telling me they will probably be last on the block to replace their water heater. I was actually encouraging him to just do it since the energy savings will probably pay for itself, very quickly. But, it's kind of ironic to know all these people spending tons of money to maintain their homes and their cars, and they just replace them prematurely anyway. Just a waste! It's the American Way. I think there is an element of believing anything a salesman says there, too. I mean, if the car needs a new spark plug, might as well throw it in the dump, right? Oh, the humanity!

Anyway, I am used to people looking at me weird because I don't do x, y, z. The biggie is probably dealer recommended auto maintenance. They think I am an idiot, meanwhile, I keep my cars 2-4 times as long as most people. Hmmmmmmmmm...

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Anyway, my stars are still aligned in a bad way. Just in the middle of a few difficult situations at work. UGH!

BM starts soccer practice, which will probably be a bit time consuming.

& school starts next week.

Anyway, it just feels a little crazy around here. Last night, I just came home and fell asleep about 6pm - I Was just so exhausted. I have the feeling today will be about the same. Except I can't nap in the p.m. because we have so much going on!

I am ready for this week to be over. That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger...

Once in a Lifetime, Indeed

August 2nd, 2010 at 01:15 pm

Yesterday was just gorgeous as can be. I don't think I have ever seen Monterey look so beautiful. Usually, overcast and grey. But the sun was shining, and the ocean was a brilliant blue. It was so pretty!

I have a weak stomach, but have never puked before on a boat (or in a car, plane, etc., though I have felt very close to). From past bad experiences though, I knew not to step foot on that boat without proper sea sickness medicine.

We raced out to the open water, and were probably there within 20 minutes. IT was so amazing - we could see the other whale watching boats in the distance and there were obviously many whales, since we could clearly see their water spouts, still being very far away. (We also saw a lot of dolphins, and some seals, jumping through the waves).

As we approached, those whales swam off. No need to fear, we probably saw a good 20 whales, easily. As we stopped the boat, others came near. They were just frolicking. It was AMAZING.

Or so I was told. I didn't get to see much, because I ended up puking my guts out! On a scale of 1 - 10, it was a 10 of agony. Unfortunately, the worst was when we stopped, and the whales came right up to the boat. I missed most of it. The less we moved, the worse I felt. The sea was pretty choppy. Every time the boat stopped, for the amazing views, the more I puked. (Oh, it could have been so much worse! I puked in my jacket, I Was in denial until it happened, and THEN found out there were barf bags on board - I might have used 4 of them - just kept sending dh to get me more. But at least I didn't puke all over someone). It was so GOOD we had MIL with us to help entertain the kids while dh and her took turns taking care of me!

Everyone else had a stellar time. So I am still glad we went. I just think that is my last boat ride, for eternity. Big Grin

I did get to see some whales, but clearly did not appreciate their full glory.

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So, it was quite a whirlwind weekend for us. Spent a lot of time in the car...

In other news, found out in a roundabout way that an acquaintance of mine lost her house to foreclosure.

It's a shame because she was REALLY stupid financially, and had seemed to be coming around when they bought this house with some inheritance money. About 3 years ago?

I don't know all the details, but it looks like they put a good chunk down on the home, and in the end, just lost it all. I can't help but wonder if they kept any more of the inheritance, or what. Who knows.

In the past it was just, feeling glad she *woke up* and didn't squander that money.

As I poked around a bit to see what they paid for the house and all the gory details, it was obviously a bit of a stretch and definitley far more than they needed.

I always hear about these by accident or through the grapevine though. I don't know anyone who is proud in this situation. No one's bragging about it. More like hiding it in a cloak of shame.

Though most of the foreclosures we have been seeing and hearing about are so obvious - just obvious that these people are in WAY over their heads - this is probably the first of many we will probably start to hear about. People who just aren't on my radar as in WAY over their heads. No doubt a lot of people are hiding just how bad off they really are. So, who knows who will be next.