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Archive for April, 2013

Earning, Spending

April 28th, 2013 at 04:28 pm

**Dh received an offer for an additional $50 if he did a follow up interview to huge focus group he just did. Cool!! He also has some unrelated $125 focus group this week.

**I should be able to redeem some nice credit card rewards this week (maybe $100 to ROTH and mortgage). Just from regular monthly usage of cards.

**I invested in some tupperware from Amazon and am pleased with what we got. I think I will return some of it though (got too much). Having just made do with hand-me-downs or whatever we have, this is a small but nice investment.

I told dh we should not spend any more money this month, so of course he looks at all the ads today. Rolleyes He shows me this huge tupperware set of a nice variety we already have (though just one or two pieces is all we have of this kind), on sale at Target for $15. I couldn't resist. We need to clear out the cupboards and start from scratch though. I think this set is way more than we need, but at that price we can donate or give away whatever we don't find useful. Heck, the return I have will cover this purchase.

**We are mostly prepared for our fur baby's arrival tomorrow, but our last pet had been declawed before we adopted her. So, it will be a bit of an adjustment. I have invested in a nice cat condo/tree/scratcher (Amazon - not sure when it will arrive). & a scratcher toy that I know my mom's cats love. Will start with that and go from there. I picked up a new pooper scooper yesterday and a couple of cat toys. I suppose we did not have much for old senior cat since she was not very active. We might have some toys somewhere if we can find them. So we bought a couple of the interim.

I am okay on everything else. I had tossed a couple of old litter boxes in my grief rather than clean them out and deal with them (I reasoned I had cloth diapered my kids, and I never throw away much anyway, so I would allow myself to be extremely wasteful in my grief), but I had also bought some larger litter boxes in effort to help aging cat and plan for vacation, so we still seem to have more than we need. One of the newer ones had never been used since kitty refused to use it. Rolleyes I did have the patience and mental capacity to clean the one newer litter box - way too nice to consider throwing out.

Since he will be recovering from neuter surgery, we will fashion him a cardboard box fort to hide in, in the interim. I know I had more cat stuff at some point but not sure where any of it is - probably donated. I used to have a nice cube, but all I could figure is cat didn't use it and we got rid of it. Cardboard will due until the new cat condo arrives.

**Carpet is getting cleaned a week from Monday. A highly recommended place; just really booked up. We have some mess to clean up from old senior cat. Too bad we didn't get it done sooner - it's just been so hectic. I will be pleased to get that done.

Better news yet, dh told me he would go through a Craigslist pile we have in the living room. He feels motivated to clear space for carpet cleaning. Awesome!! Maybe we have enough to sell to pay for the carpet cleaning?

**Speaking of cleaning up around the house, dh is finally caving on replacing the garbage disposal. I really wanted to about 18 months ago but he was being cheap. It's actually been behaving pretty well, but we have a small leak and we think that might be the culprit. It's beyond time. So I am very happy to get that taken care of.

**Dh has been complaining profusely to Sprint about slow 3G. They are knocking $10/month off our bill, but we have to call each and every month for the credit. Rolleyes We have 12 more months on our contract. We did solve some of the mystery. The higher populated areas have more troubles because too many users sharing bandwith. Dh figured that out, and it was our "aha" moment. No wonder we get such fast internet speeds when in the middle of nowhere. Sprint even admitted they were slowing down the 3G while implementing the 4G, which is why they issued the credit. But they also said 4G would be here any day. Like they didn't tell us that 12 months ago. If they don't get it rolled out, we will be long gone. Dh will complain more in coming months. This is totally ridiculous. We might go crawling back to Verizon. Their prices have come down, and we at least know what our usage is. We had no frame of reference before using a data plan. Now we know what we want in a plan and can make a more informed decision. I don't regret using Sprint for the transition because it really was cheapest. & at least dh gets an answer as to why they seem to be getting slower and slower. I hope it is indeed because they are rolling out 4G. For my pocketbook, I hope they just roll the dang thing out so we can stay with Sprint. But I agree with paying a little more so that our phone internet actually works and dh can use phone for what he actually wants to use it for. Fair enough.

**Kids have been complaining about old Frankenstein computer that dh cobbled together for him. So dh broached subject with me. He kind of was talking about one or two computers to replace. I told him I'd rather buy two $500 computers than one $1,000 computer. But again, maybe this could wait another year. HE didn't think he had replaced his computer since 2009, and that it might be wiser to hand down his computer and buy up. My response was: Whatever!! Rolleyes So I finally got around to looking it up today. What happened is the computer he had before just died very prematurely, and it screwed up everything after that. Ideally we would have handed that last one down to the kids, and it would have been much newer. So I just remember it being very annoying, unexpected and $$$$.

So I look it up. We haven't bought a computer since 2008. !!! You could blow me over with a feather. Particularly since dh has no issues and no desire to upgrade.

So I just told him we were both wrong and the good news is we have not bought one single computer in 5 years. (He had guessed it had been 4 years).

So anyway, I think it's fair for him to upgrade and to give the kids this system - it should have a lot of life in it and fulfill their growing needs. Dh is considering getting a laptop too, to replace our netbook. I am totally fine with the netbook. But I am much more open to this investment at this point. Then the kids have access to two computers for schoolwork and gaming. They won't touch my netbook any more. Dh gets super fast desktop. We all win. I feel like dh is always buying computer and computer parts, so this whole thing just floored me. We did upgrade our monitors during last few years, but apparently that was a wise investment during some "no computer purchase" years. (I think some of that was even more my idea). I told him, "I guess it's been all the TVs lately - it all blurs together."

**& that reminds me, the $50 Amazon TV part fix seems to be working. *fingers crossed.* So, hallelujah to that.

Our New Baby

April 27th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

What a week!!

I did get last weekend off, but it was kind of hectic with robot wars and such. Which, by the way, was totally awesome. We also got to meet Grant from Mythbusters. Big Grin

This week was totally insane crazy, but I finished my deadlines around 3pm Friday so I left work. Just, exhausted. I've still got a ton to do, and a couple of deadlines. But I was so determined to not have to work this weekend. So, I think the worst is over. Phew!! Maybe one more week of OT and then it should be pretty 9-5. I will also get a couple of 3-day-weekends in May.

I am very delighted to have a quiet weekend.

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There are a large number of no-kill groups that foster shelter cats and showcase them at local pet stores at the weekends. For reference, I have felt compelled to take one of those cats home in the past though I could in no way shape or form do so. So, we have been by quite a few times, but I swear all the cats sleep and totally ignore us. Learning about the groups has warmed my heart and we have seen quite a few elderly cats gets adopted surprisingly fast. So it's been all good, but I couldn't feel any more like I was getting a signal from the universe that it was *not* time to get a cat. {I am not sure I have ever in my life seen a bunch of homeless cats and been able to resist}.

Dh and I even went to the shelter one day - same kind of thing. Dh even told me he had never adopted a shelter pet, and it was kind of weird and how do you know if it's a good fit? I told him, "You know. Nothing's grabbed me yet, but you will know when you find the right one." So we talked about how we just weren't clicking with any of the animals.

So, anyway, there was this beautiful cat that really caught my attention on the shelter website. They have $5 adoptions for adult cats on Fridays. So I told dh if I finished all my work I would take it as a sign and we should meet up when the kids get out of school.

There were also two black kittens there. I know - bad bad bad!!! Ideally we want a 1 or 2yo cat. BUT, I reason, what's the difference really? IF they are 6 months, they will be 1yo soon enough. Big Grin

So I did finish my work early, only to find the cat that got me so excited had been adopted out already. Frown But I was committed to perusing the shelter and getting out early. & heck, maybe we could sucker dh into those kittens. (Lord knows if we looked at kittens with the kids, we were coming home with them).

I did notice a pretty Siamese cat that had just been posted to the shelter website, so noted that one.

Shelter is very short-staffed, unorganized and frustrating. It took forever to get to meet this cat, and I wasn't expecting much. Next was going to be the kittens, and lord knows how long this would take, we didn't have a lot of time before closing. Well, they brought out the Siamese and we all fell in love with him. That was it, I did not want to look at any other cats. By some miracle, we all four actually agreed, so what more can you ask for? That is as good as it's going to get.

This is not him, but his general likeness:



He needs to get neutered, so we won't get him until Monday. Which is good, because I probably have some clean up to do around here, first.

Some name ideas:

Senor Chang

Sir Catsalot

(I like Ziggy, but no one else does). We will give it some time. We still don't have a strong sense of his personality, from our brief meeting.

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The shelter experience?

When I adopted my last cat, she had been abandoned by prior owner. They had filled out a questionnaire a mile long, that I still have. Then, I remember them absolutely grilling me and giving me the third degree. To be fair, it was the first cat I had ever owned as an adult, and they were mostly concerned that we both worked full-time and cat would be alone. That is what I remember them grilling me about.

This shelter experience? Gah. Supposedly the owner dropped him off yesterday - surrendered. But he didn't know the cat's name or sex. ??? What is that about? I've got nothing. (That was all they really asked on their questionnaire. Not what kind of food he eats, favorite toys, personality, yadda yadda). I am skeptical if he was someone's pet or what the heck. But he warmed up to us pretty fast and all you can do is go with your gut.

& yeah, he hadn't been neutered, so that kind of sucks that we have to deal with that. That we get to bring him home fresh from surgery.

Oh, and then they kind of just shrugged and took our $5 and that was that. No third degree this time, for sure. They seemed happy that we were alive and breathing, and that fit their requirements to be good pet owners. Maybe having a record of keeping one cat for its whole long life was good enough for them - we had filled out a brief questionnaire.

So, the whole thing was kind of weird. I feel like we are flying in very blind. But kitty needs a home, so what can you do? (We live in a different city now, but is helping me to appreciate how well run the other shelter was).

He is 1-year-old so I think he will be a good fit for the kids. A little more high energy than they are used to.

Brussel Sprouts + Kumare

April 18th, 2013 at 01:19 pm

We finally got around to watching Kumare on Netflix. I thought it was excellent. The movie is about a man who pretends to be a spiritual guru and gathers a following - "hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith." It wasn't quite as I expected, it's a movie that will really make you think.

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I don't know if I have ever particularly had brussel sprouts before. There were some brussel sprouts at Easter and I was pleasantly surprised how good they were. So dh tried a new recipe last night - we are brussel sprout converts. Even LM (the picky one) didn't think they were bad. BM (not picky) was not a fan.

Roasted Garlic Brussel Sprouts

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/roa...

MIL's recipe was just to roast in the oven with some salt and pepper blend. Probably tossed in olive oil. YUM.

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I invested in some tupperware last night. I got some divided containers so I could spice up the kids lunch a bit, and fulfilled some container needs we have. I just went with the cheap plastic stuff because most our current stuff is "disposable" or "came with food packaging" type stuff that has lasted many many years for us. So, it was not a big investment. Will see what works for us and at that point can buy more of what we like, and can clear out some of the old/sad stuff in our cupboards. It was a small investment, but will be a nice one. I also invested in some re-useable watter bottles.

Car Repairs + OT

April 17th, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Well, the *big* push at work is over, but I can't say things have slowed much. Still crazy busy for a while.

I did receive a very nice OT check. That said, I did not clear more than last year because of our tax situation. It's a bummer to earn more but to bring home less. So, I have $4700 for our China fund. I saved 100%, as was the plan. (This was also the first time I did not receive straight OT - definitely a bit of a bonus, which was nice!)

I was looking at our checkbook today trying to figure why I was feeling worse off than expected. But realized we still have not received dh's $400 for study. Rolleyes That will be much better. It really should have been here by now.

Dh is cute. He was surprised I was planning to save 100% of OT with upcoming car repairs. Silly boy. (We save for car repairs throughout the year, and he should know this).

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Having always driven much older cars, there seems to be a pattern where certain cars eat through certain parts quite often. On dh's car it has always been the motor mounts. We took it in and was as I had expected. Oh well - is the only thing we have ever really replaced first 150k miles (aside from the obvious - batteries, tires, brake pads). But it's definitely official - this car eats motor mounts! (Replacing them every 50k miles or so is infinitely cheaper than buying up in car - plan to keep this car another 5+ years).

Mechanic recommended that we replace the timing belt (probably should have done sooner, but don't take vehicle in very much). So, I thought we had replaced some belt around 100k miles but realized it was just the fan belt when I looked it up. We decided not to drive the car until we can get it back in - might be in the shop two days. So kind of an inconvenient week. We take it back tomorrow, as they were too booked to just keep the car. This will be by far the most expensive repair we have ever had on this car - and don't expect anything like this for a long while. The vehicle is very low maintenance, but belts and such do need to be replaced when you keep a car a long time.

While checking records I noted we will probably have a couple of tires to replace on dh's car this summer. Will wait until late summer, but will be good to replace before fall.

Walking + The Auto Crap Trap

April 14th, 2013 at 03:58 pm

Mr. Money Mustache had a post about the amazing health benefits of walking.

I've got other stuff to blog about, but holy cow was this post timely.

So, we will never win any awards for walking, as the neighborhood we live in initially had a -0- walkability score. So, I hardly doubt we deserve any pat on the back for our walking skills. But I have griped on here before (particularly when kids were little) how I saw little use for strollers. How it bothered us how low expectations parents have for their kids to walk on their own two feet. & now I am pondering how that translates into lifelong habits.

This particularly came up this week because dh was watching other children. We live about 3 blocks from the school (though BM has been moved to another campus with the older kids - they outgrew the first location). Even after driving to pick up BM, dh just walks to pick up LM. It is the path of least resistance. The traffic is totally crazy. & by the time you find a place to walk and park, you might as well just go home and walk. So, the other day LM had arranged a play date and dh picks up this kid. He said, "OMG this kid walked SO SLOW." For reference, this kid is 8. So, anyway, they are just walking home and no rush, so whatever. But, he had to walk him back to school to meet up with the kids' mom. So, this kid is driving dh nuts because he is so slow and whiny about the whole thing.

So, it is what it is. Don't offer to walk him back to school - mom can pick him up next time. Except, he had agreed to babysit some other kids the other night. But when he picked up BM from school (& Was in a rush to get LM picked up immediately after) they had begged dh to just take them home with him for a playdate. Which was no biggie, but by the time he gets all their crap from the mom and everything and they arrange things, he is running really late to pick up LM. Plus, he has no room in his car for a fourth child. So, they drive home and walk to school. He's got a kindergardener with him now. & the kid is about as whiny and slow as the 8yo. & he asked dh to carry him. !!

So, dh has just had enough with these kids. I could maybe kind of sort of cut the Kinder some slack (he is 5), just based on our culture. BUT, then again, the 8yo is whiny and slow because no one made him walk anywhere when he was 5.

In the end, dh made them all walk on their own two feet, and they all survived.

The funny thing is when I came home, totally clueless, I had asked the kids if they wanted to go to the park. Good thing they said no, because it was a bit of a walk. LOL. I could just see their reaction if we started walking to the park - dh should have warned me!!

But again, this is our observations as suburbanites who probably walk infinitely less than we should. Mr. Money Mustaches posts often about how absurd and illogical our car habits are. This just kind of falls into that realm.

I also have one more observation on car culture. We are the weird/unique ones in our neighborhood who walk whenever it's 3 blocks or less. There are reasons people regularly drive one to three blocks (to neighbor's home, to park, to pool). One reason is time. They feel really pressed for time. But the less obvious reason is "crap." There is a really strong correlation between how big your car is, how much you use it, and how much crap you must carry with you everywhere you go. Of course, my first child was born in 2003. It was the height of SUV/monstrosity travel system stroller culture. We just never quite *got it.* We did fine with our small vehicle because we never bought into the crap. {I've actually been noticing that both cars and baby gear are slimming down in recent years. Thank Goodness! Not everyone has to go small, but some of us would like the *choice*}. So I really noticed this when it came to baby crap. Of course, planning to cut our income in half at the time, we were thinking through to what we really needed and what we could live without. Obviously we could live without SUVs. & then what followed was needing baby gear that was small and compact, so that became our focus. As well as simply doing without a lot of unnecessary crap. (& even if we had a large car, we still had a preference for more light and compact stuff - I don't think that would change things for us).

But anyway, I think my neighbor is the epitome of all this. I totally lover her, but she can not walk anywhere. She regularly drives the 1/8 mile or so to our house. The 3 blocks to the park or the pool. Why? Because you can't go to the park without 5 wheeled toys for 2 children. You load up the car. You can't go to the pool without a feast and a pile of toys. Load up the car. & so I think there is a strong correlation between walking and *stuff*. We regularly walk to the park and the pool, and I have no idea why we would need to bring anything we can't carry. It is just so much SIMPLER.

So there you go: The Auto Crap Trap

Some Good Links re: Happiness

April 11th, 2013 at 02:33 pm

Crazy busy with work these days. I think I am over the hump, but feeling pretty "blah." I decided it's probably understandable since we put our cat down and I haven't had a lot of time or energy to process that. My mom has also been having health problems. So, I don't think life will magically be all happy after April 15th, but maybe I can start putting myself first again (better eating, sleeping and exercise habits). I have been letting those things slide, quite unusual for me even during tax season. So, I learned that it doesn't work and to put myself FIRST. Because everything else seems to follow from there.

It will be busy for a while, but am looking forward to a 3-day weekend in mid-May.

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So, I have a million things I could blog about, but will leave it to a couple of good links.

My Money Blog paid off his mortgage. (Which as I recall, was a crazy gigantic mortgage** - $500k+ range - somewhere in California). I will share the link because the reasoning was interesting. He had been planning to be a stay-home dad, but since baby was born, they have abandoned that plan. His wife wants to be home more, he is not as interested, and so they are doing the both-part-time thing for now. I think this is so important because most parents won't really know what they want to do until child is born. I have often said if I had to do it all over we would have done the both-part-time thing. Some parents are cut out for being home full-time with 10 kids, and some are CEO work-out-of-home types, but I think the vast majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. & I think it's hard to even know what *type* you are until you actually have a baby. You won't know until you have *your* baby. & even once you have your first child, your next child may be an entirely different experience. I would say working was never *any* big deal with my eldest (I went back after 8 weeks), but was more difficult when my younger was aged 0-3. So I was thinking seriously of cutting back for a time, but now all that is so moot any more. Both kids are in school now (age 8/10) and are becoming infinitely more independent by the day. It's amazing how much circumstances change so rapidly with kids. The more you plan for various scenarios the happier you are going to be as a parent, so I think this was very much worth sharing: Surprise surprise, another new parent falls to Plan B. (I think this happens more often than not, but I don't think most people are nearly as prepared for these scenarios).

**As to the "crazy gigantic mortgage" comment - I don't think it's that big of a deal since he is quite young and mortgage-free. But, just to point out that this was no small feat, to pay off a very large sum on the extremely young side.

So, congrats to MyMoneyBlog for being debt-free!!

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/paid-off-mortgage.html

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Mr. Money Mustache also had an awesome potentially life-changing post. I really think this is the *key* to happiness:

A Peak Life is Lived Off-Peak

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/04/07/a-peak-life-is-liv...

Basically, if you want to be happy, don't waste a lot of time in line and sitting in traffic. It's easier to find happiness when you aren't following the herd.

I can think of many examples big to small, and is a common theme in my own blog.

What is leaves me pondering is how much of this is just in my very nature? No doubt that we understand this on a very HUGE scale having made our low-cost-of-living move. We wanted to make life 10 times more simpler? We picked up and moved to a "far less desirable" region. Which has always been funny to us, because it feels virtually identical to where we have moved from. Except without all the downsides of extreme over-crowding. !! So you could argue that maybe it's just easier for us to see the benefit of living more off-peak. It's hard to ignore when you change your life so dramatically with such a small move. BUT, I think there is more to it than that. What came first, the chicken or the egg. Why are we the only ones in a large group of very intelligent friends and family who said, "Screw this, I am out of here!" You really have to delude yourself to believe that you live in the only place in the universe worth living, the only place you can be happy, and that it's worth paying $700,000 for that 2-bedroom starter home. Dh and I just never quite *got it* and that was with an emotional attachment to the only city we had ever called home. But we had enough common sense to realize life could be better elsewhere. Or at least just as good. But it turned out way better, which was maybe the surprising part to us.

So, I think we probably have off-peak tendencies anyway. It might just be our natural inclination to seek out the "different."

Side note: I also think this is why I don't see "traditional 9-5 work" and "happiness" as mutually exclusive. My job allows plenty of "off-peak" living opportunities. & so I will disagree a bit with the Money Mustache about how limiting the 9-5 job is. It is limiting, no doubt, but jobs come in all shapes and sizes. I have always had a very short/easy commute and a flexible job with plenty of off-peak time to enjoy. These are important to me in a job, and I seek out these jobs very specifically due to my personal preferences. But this maybe explains why I come across so much, "It's impossible to work 9-5 and be happy!" & why I have absolutely never understood that on any level. It's because we are living a largely off-peak life, regardless of my employment. It is interesting food for thought, and I think it's important because some of us enjoy working and more of us *have to* work. So the more we figure out how to balance work and life, the more of us will truly be happy.

Fiscal Doings

April 5th, 2013 at 03:44 am

**Got paid, so paid the mortgage and property taxes. Added $25 to the mortgage (credit card rewards).

With the "big picture" and home prices rising, will probably shift from less mortgage snowballing to more mortgage snowflaking. Snowflaking I am very fine with (and can accomplish a lot over time). But we've only been extra fierce the last couple of years because we were hanging tight to our 20% equity. Now that we have an "easy 50% equity," just not feeling the motivation. Have other more important financial goals. Like maybe actually starting to save for college. Probably a catchall mortgage/college/freedom fund. I like the idea of just doing 50/50 to mortgage/investing, but I think with so many upward pressures on expenses and downward pressures on income for the foreseeable future that we will instead to "lots of saving and investing" and throw some of the entirely unexpected at the mortgage.

**Redeemed $50 credit card rewards to my ROTH - will have another $50 on May 1st.

**Dh is in the middle of an intense study from the focus group company. I turned down an easy $80 because it was like today, and I ignored calls for several others. I just couldn't add one thing to my workload (it's almost the 15th!!! Will be working 7 days this week). {Of course, they haven't called me in ages, but when it rains it pours}. & anyway, dh was busy with his own study, tonight. It's been a big time commitment - maybe 8 hours?? But they will pay him $400 and it all can be done from home. Some kind of study about making dinner. But he had to go to a friend's house to watch them make dinner, which was tonight. I suppose that adds another couple of hours to the mix, the the bulk of it has been doing things he'd do anyway (like make dinner or go to a friend's for dinner).

This reminds me, a co-worker looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned this study. LOL. I keep thinking that the "Mustachian" mindset is subtle. You can jive with someone really frugal and fiscally conservative 99% of the time, and then something like this and they think you are totally crazy. Co-worker does realize my spouse is unemployed? I understand why she would not consider with her very high income household and with their crazy schedule. But, cut me some slack...

**One problem. Credit card got denied the other day. Turns out a merchant had a security breach and our card issuer was being cautious. Which explains why they hadn't bothered to call me, because it was a wide breach and they changed the numbers on a side swath of credit cards, it seems.

Anyway, since I tried to use the card and called, they told me they would expedite my card replacements. As they had not initially expedited them. I could also keep using the old card until Friday. EXCEPT that when I called the card issuer, they no longer recognized my credit card number. Took forever to find a human to talk to - SO frustrating.

I figured it would straighten out in a few days. It mostly has. But I ordered that wearable sleeping bag for BM. We received it lightning fast, but it's not showing up on my credit card bill at all. Not showing up as pending. Nowhere.

To top it off, now that we got it and got to see the size and see if it works as well as person, I Was ready to buy one for LM. We decided to do child size for him, which is WAY cheaper. SO I just ordered it. Wonder if they will accept my order or if I am on the deadbeat list. Big Grin I will eventually straighten it out. When I called the credit card company they told me it was a "new thing that they hadn't researched yet" so basically couldn't tell me anything. They couldn't tell me if there were fraudulent charges on my card. I wonder if there was some suspicious charges that they just removed. Not usually their M.O. But I am sure something less noticeable could easily be missing from my bill.

Our online backup usually goes through the first of the month and that never came through either. So dh will have to straighten that out. He's got to update our new card # with Hulu and Netflix too. Most the utilities and insurance only take Visa, so it's kind of spread out so it's not a huge headache to update everything. I updated Amazon and our health insurer.

Got Some Sun + Cell Phone Grumblings

April 1st, 2013 at 02:15 pm

**Easter was really nice.

IT's been very sunny here actually. Our gas bill was about 50% of what it was last year. We turned off the heat in later February, I believe. I guess that is official that it's more mild than last year. BUT, it was a very stormy weekend. In the end it turns out it worked out for the best to be out of town. Usually our weather is pretty similar to San Jose (we get the same storms anyway). But yesterday Sacramento was more crazy T-storms and even a funnel cloud spotted. We were 100 miles south enjoying beautiful sunny weather. If we knew it would have been so nice, MIL would have cleaned up the pool. Easter is usually a pool party, but every few years we get a storm. So anyway, the storm never materialized down there. I was so relieved to *enjoy* the sun, as I have been working too much to really enjoy the nice weather. The drive home was okay as we waited out the storms. We did pass through an area with a funnel cloud warning. I Was reading all the weather reports on the drive home. So, was happy to get home. Lots of WANRING: DANGER kind of stuff. Wind and floods and dangerous lightning. In the end we didn't see any hail and only drove through a few minutes of heavy rain. Phew! I Was expecting more of a show, but we really didn't see much lightning.

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**I am not sure what has changed from before to now, but dh has been really unhappy with Sprint. Maybe he always has and was getting more frustrated. He called to complain a couple of weeks ago, and they said they wanted to make sure they tried this and that before starting to talk about discounting our bill. Well, they called him back a few days later - actually left him a message while we were at our *final* vet appointment. So, he didn't want to deal with it right then and never called them back to complain whatever they did wasn't helping.

So on the drive down he was griping about it. While in San Jose I talked to my dad about it and he had a long list of complaints too (We share a phone plan - and they both have the same phone).

So on the drive home I told dh he should talk to my dad about it before he calls back. Make sure to report his complaints too. While we were talking about it he handed me his phone to do some speed tests. I Was getting 100 mbps in several spots (even one mile from our home which is basically the middle of a giant city, incidentally where dh spends most his time and got the *worst* readings). 100 mbps download, when they advertise a minimum of 1,000. OF course dh was peeved as the entire drive home I kept picking up, 200, 300, 500, 800. 100 was just the nail in the coffin. I got *one* reading of 1,000+ on a 100-mile drive.

In addition, dh is really peeved with their 4G advertising. We get 4G in the dinkiest towns, and that is it. He didn't necessarily expect it in Sacramento, but is realizing if they can't pull it off anywhere in the Bay Area, that they probably don't have the infrastructure. (That would be a logical place to start - where are the techies and reviewers are). So he did expect to enjoy in the Bay Area by now, as they of course told us "4G is being rolled out" when we signed up a year ago. We regularly get 4G in the car when driving past cow pastures. But that is it. !! Needless to say, their advertising was misleading.

So dh will work on getting some kind of action, help or discount. In the meantime, T-Mobile is rolling out an interesting plan where they are offering "no contract/unsubsidized phone" plans. & what they will do is add $20/month to your bill until your phone is paid off. (Or you can just buy a non-contract phone, probably elsewhere).

So, dh is going to talk seriously to Sprint about the cost to get out of our contract. & will be re-visiting Ting and other options. I think T-mobile won't be any better speed-wise. But, basically, we are at, "I ain't paying a gazillion dollars for this $%&^ if it doesn't work as advertised. T-mobile can give us the same crappy service for $50 less per month."

So we have some serious research and number crunching to do. We may be stuck with Sprint several more months due to the contract. IT was never our intention to stick with them for the long run. We still believe in other options and more cell phone competition, and are waiting for some of the other services to mature. But, I suppose there was an element of being willing to pay a little more for high expectations. Likewise, we had no baseline of what our data or text usage would be and now that we have that information we can start making some better informed decisions. Overall, the industry is still ridiculously priced for what it is. Time to Seriously Consider Plan B.