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Archive for August, 2013

Some Purging...

August 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Monday was such a *Monday*. I am not used to having *Mondays*. !! Maybe something in the air, dh had a similar day. (He had to go to the store twice, and then realized he had forgotten something, but that could wait versus trip #3). We are all adjusting to new schedules. I am still very discombobulated.

One thing I forgot Monday was to set out some Goodwill bags for pickup. Just my luck, because another charity came by Wednesday. I somehow remembered. Put out 2.5 bags (some baby stuff, some clothing purge - kids and adults). & this plastic organizer/shelf thing that I was going to sell. They took "furniture" so I just left it out and crossed my fingers. Phew.

We've actually been pretty on top of all things kid and baby (sell to replace - some just out of no other option to afford thing). BUT, what I purged was a giant pile of baby blankets. I honestly don't remember who any of them were made by. (I kept our parents' knitted baby blankets). Had some olde sleeping bags and stuff (on the older kid side of things). I thought the organizer/shelf thing may be useful at some point, but decided it was too small. I have a couple of pictures/wall hangings I can sell on Craigslist.

Onto a new purge - time to fill up some bags. I told my mom last night that I swear we didn't even buy anything any more and I have no idea what it comes from. She did say, "Have you met your mother in law?" Touche. But, it's more than that. I'd just like to know the point where I feel on top of the *stuff.* There has got to be a tipping point. For me it started when I was in that pregnant "nesting" stage and clearing out a bedroom for the younger child. I don't remember what I was doing for older child, but I remember the purging/nesting thing (we had a totally empty room for him). It's been 10 years - we shouldn't own anything any more that we don't use a lot. Wink

{Lord knows we return and re-gift and sell tons of stuff that MIL brings into our house - we don't keep it all. I just sent back a pile of school uniforms because she did not give me a receipt or ask what sizes we needed. Oh, and the shirts were all for girls. LOL. I don't think it was her mistake, but the sizing was all off and I said, "Is it just me but do those sleeves look kind of girly?" The inside had polka dots and their usual size was way too small in the girly/polka dot variety. Since my nieces have no school uniforms, I think Wal Mart or whoever mis-stocked them. Thankfully they did not fit, or else I am not sure we would have noticed. I am sure others would have noticed. Maybe not many, but someone would have!}.

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Oh, dh scored a $30 focus group. IS about the cheapest one he's had, but will take it!

Life has been busy with last-minute unexpected guests, and a babysitting request (that I got stuck doing) from carpooler. IT's all fine, but just bad timing. Our driving saving has been substantial this week - so that is the plus.

Our cat has *way* mellowed out. Last night the 6-year-old carpool buddy played rough with him and carried him all around the house. His favorite thing to do was to trap him (in a room or in a box). I was waiting for the cat to scratch his eyes out or run away and hide, but the cat just followed him around everywhere. ?? I mostly kept a close eye on things, but watched with amazement. I've always had such fraidy cats. His wild and fun and curious streaks has no doubt masked his patient streak.

The cat also seems to understand there will always be ample food, so is not being such a pig. I think that is some of his mellowness - that he is more comfortable and less on edge.

Weekend Doings

August 26th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

**Dh killed two birds with one stone this weekend. He helped a friend move, and also got some family video interview footage (out of town). Phew!! He has put so much time and effort to my own family's videos, post-dad-heart-attack, that I am relieved he has finally gotten around to footage of those closer and more local. (He has been collecting film out of town and when out-of-towners visit, for several years, and had put his 90-year-old Grandma high on the list - has already done a couple of interviews with here in less recent past). But, we all know the youngest of us can drop dead tomorrow... So, I feel great relief, and am sure he does to.

The kids and I read, lounged by the pool, and spent about $20 on pizza and ice cream.

Dh was paid in pizza and beer. So, aside from gas, he didn't spend anything.

**I don't think dh is feeling very gung ho on his video project. His feedback pre-interview was that my family is 100 times more interesting than his. Big Grin

His feedback post-interview, is that we are also way more interesting to interview (maybe because we have more interesting stories?). Actually, his family has great stories, so I think he is just finding it hard to pull it out of them.

So, will see what he will come up with. I am sure he will work his magic.

**It's been on and off *smokey* here, due to all the wildfires. One day last week was particularly miserable (it had gotten really hot and the car AC did not seem to work with the smoke. I was worried the car was having problems, but it seems to work fine without layers of smoke in the air mixed with crazy hot temps).

I just saw that Berkely family camp (near Yosemite) was completely destroyed. Frown I looked up San Jose's camp because it seemed it was probably in same area (was on the same river). Well, it's just a few miles away, and some of it has been destroyed. Sounds like it might be a miracle if it isn't completely destroyed when all is said and done? I couldn't find the dates on some of the news articles that said it was still in the midst of the fire.

We've been going to Sacramento camp, closer to Tahoe, for the past several years. But, it's up in the forest close to where our family cabin is. All of which are very open to the same fate. Dh's Grandma has had a heck of a time getting fire insurance in recent years (she owns the cabin).

Actually, there was a peanut allergy death this year, at Camp Sacramento. Not a good year for the city Camps! We've actually had a heck of a time with the snow in maybe 2 of the last 3 or 4 years. (Camp being buried under 8 feet of snow in June, stuff like that). The snow sounds mighty fine about now.

Fiscal Minutiae/Crazy Spending Sum Up

August 24th, 2013 at 09:48 am

Had some time today to see where things are with the checkbook and such.

**We are getting 2% back on our Visa this month, due to a temporary promotion. In fact, the 2% promo kicked in the day we bought our new garage door (& they did not accept our 2%-back AmEx). So, phew!!

**Sent $5,000 off to the AmEx, earlier this week, for plumbing bills.

Kind of a non-event, because I had already transferred $5,000 from savings when we got the first quote. I thought it was possible we'd need a lot of money *fast*. But, we were able to charge it in the end, so I got to hang onto it for a month. {We keep checking balance around -0- and so I don't bother to include it in my net worth. It has felt like the money was *gone* since the minute I put it in my checking account}.

**I was $10 in the negative, as of 8/31, so I decided to fix that before I forgot or got distracted. I didn't think much about it because it's been *crazy*. But I realized since we could not charge the garage door repair that I had paid cash for that from checkbook, without pulling the funds from savings. (Which makes me not in the negative at all).

I usually do one net transfer a month, but had not done the August transfer yet. Once I added that garage door money from savings to checking, I was back in the green. This was much easier than moving $100 over now and moving it back after payday, which was my initial plan. Phew!

This is one of the biggest reasons I really like using Quicken (or any electronic system). It's easy to move things around and just keep things simple. I threw in all the September deposits and bills, and it seemed to $0 out (income = outflow). So, phew.

**Total cash still seems to be hovering around "6 months of expenses." I stopped funding ROTHs, due to all this hoo-ha, so that explains the most of the why. If things settle down, we should be able to fund one entire ROTH by 12/31. I always send 20% of every month's pay, to savings. So, that is why we are treading water. I also receive January 1 paycheck on December 31, which is why it should be enough to fund an entire IRA, through the rest of the year. The worst case plan is to fund the rest of second IRA in Feb, March, April. I have already put $1,000 into one IRA (plus $500 credit card rewards). We should also have some Christmas gift money to help fund the IRAs.

**We did an unofficial inventory and this sums up my year, financially:

--Two Dead TVs (the only two we had/both fairly new)
--One major car repair
--One MRI
--Vet bills/lost pet
--Replaced computer (was crazy old)
--4 Plumbing Repairs in one month
--Clothes Washer broke
--A/C broke
--Garage Door broke
--Cell phone Broke (it was rather new)
--Major carpet cleaning (more ailing pet stuff)

& it's only August??? OMG - I am exhausted. (& I am sure I am forgetting something...).

Many thoughts and comments on this (wanted to put this all in one place).

I've seen the comment to save 1% - 3% of home purchase price, for home maintenance. Given the overall low maintenance of our home (we aren't maintaining acres, and many other low-maintenance factors) and due the general higher cost of housing here, I find that 1% is more than ample. In the grand scheme of things, if we had done this from Day 1, we'd have about $30,000 saved today for home maintenance. (& I am not aware of any large repairs on the immediate horizon). The reality is we got about $-0- saved up specifically for home maintenance, because we had some really low income years and weren't particularly saving. Which is fine - our house was bought new and has been VERY low maintenance. Which was our plan, and has worked out fine. We can save more now to make up for lost time. If we save 2% of home purchase price, every year for next 10 years, is about what we are doing anyway. In the meantime, we have fully funded our car replacement funds (with no plans to replace anytime soon) so can borrow from that. Just to say, planning ahead is a VERY good thing, and is most of our ease with this crazy financial outflow.

When we started the year, we were thinking along these lines for things we might do this year: Replace carpet and reface kitchen cabinets. (The kitchen cabinets aren't the best quality and are really messed up).

In the end, we got a GREAT carpet cleaner who has our pet stained carpets looking like new again (we still have to bring them back to do the upstairs. I was giving it time to see if it was true - but yes, the stains are totally gone). SO, we completely crossed "carpet replacement" off of our list (might never do so as long as we can hire these people) and started thinking about the cabinet refacing. We like to do one big project a year, and just spread it out a bit. I suppose cabinets came next into our line of sight once we wrote off the carpet replacement.

But, this year has been crazy, so I think we will put that off to next year. I share because keeping on top of things and being able to be flexible, I think this is also all key to not panicking in times like this. Anything that has to be done, is done, but things that don't *have to* be done, we try to space out as much as possible. I can survive with fading cabinets a little while longer.

Notes on each of the above:

--It's unfortunate that dh's newer TV died, but the older one we were able to fix very inexpensively, all on our own.

Even if we aren't the most handy people, being willing and able to fix things or hire people to fix things, is a HUGE financial savings. (Versus tossing everything that breaks, which many people seem to do).

--Car repair and MRI - these are kind of usual and predictable, but just add to the insanity of this year, I guess. Seems like I have had a $1,000+ bill every single month. Gah. We do have a great very trustworthy independent mechanic to keep our costs way down.

--Vet bills... I think we got off easy with this. Could have been a *lot* worse. This just added to the overall crappiness of the kind of year it has been. Frown

--Computer replacement was more than expected - dh called it the old Frankenstein computer. Which bought us a lot of time. Why did it have to die *now* though? Gah! Dh built his own computer and got something way better for the money.

--Broken stuff:

We have reasonable low-cost contractors we can call for basic repairs. So, did this with the AC, the washer, and our new faucet.

We installed our own garbage disposal. That was a long time in the making, and we had already bought a new one, but it did literally die the end of June, before we had replaced it. It is one of those years!

We had a freezer water leak and fixed it ourselves before calling out any help. (That one was at least easy).

Major plumbing repair was a freak thing, but it happens. That's what "$30,000 saved" should have been for - something like this. We were lucky we had some time to do some research and to gather various quotes and opinions. A truer emergency would have not given us that time.

{This is actually the first time in 12 years of home ownership that I actually felt at a disadvantage for being less handy. It's possible we could have fixed this ourselves, for about 1/10 the cost, but the odds did not seem good. With the way things panned out, I think we made the right choice. I've mostly felt that our other strengths - computer and tax and financial skills - make up for hiring someone for $100 labor here and there}.

--Garage door - it's unfortunate we spent a fair amount of money last year trying to just fix the stupid thing. When it broke this year, even after we had just spent a large sum on plumbing work, we just wanted to replace it and move on. I could not stomach spending one more dollar to just put another bandaid on it. Our only complaint before was that it was loud, and just really cheap quality. It wasn't giving us any issues. But, it just wasn't worth saving, once it broke. I am so happy we ended up replacing it - it cost far less than we were expecting. & Was able to cross that off our more near-term repair list.

--Cell phone - not much to say to that - a freak thing but nothing substantial in the end.

The next question is: Are we done yet??? Because if this is it, I can deal. But, I don't know what else the year has in store.

Financial Win & Falling Dominoes

August 22nd, 2013 at 09:31 pm

Aw man, I hate it when I don't get to blogging and there are like 100 things in my head to write about. Then it's overwhelming and I don't blog anything.

**BM's schedule is totally different this year. Which is mostly going well, but lost an hour of lazy morning time. (We are both bummed about that, because are both in the habit of waking up crazy early and enjoying our mornings). But, we will adjust. I will have to ponder what to do for blogging/journal time. Evenings might be okay - it might not be the worst thing to do more productive things in the a.m. (my peak time) and I am kind of useless in the evenings anyway. But if my blogging quality decreases, then I guess that will be why. Won't be very sharp in the evenings. Will just have to play with things and see how it works out. Make new habits and figure something out. In the meantime, I feel out of sorts because my schedule is so thrown off.

**The big financial win? I saved about $25 per month on gas, and 1800 annual miles of the car(s), with a carpool situation. Woohoo!

This was my *bad* thinking: My perfect carpool would just be if someone picked up the kid every afternoon. Since it's just on the way to work, I could do mornings. But no one is going to be able to do afternoons and it's not really the most fair arrangement, so of course this is pure fantasy.

The reality: I should have at least asked around. You never know until you ask!

Anyway, what happened is literally on one of the first days of school, BM's best friend's dad said something like, "This is silly - I have room in my car and am just going over to the other campus" why we were all standing around waiting for the kids to come out. The older kids are at a new location 5 miles way (their school is "musical chairs" until we get a permanent location).

I actually didn't quite jump on that for a few reasons. The topic actually moved on to middle schools and stuff, and I got distracted. I honestly think it totally went over dh's head. Heck, it mostly went over mine.

So I wake up like Tuesday and it pops into my head. Like 5 days after the fact. & I just get it in my craw that we need to work something out. We hadn't considered them at all, because they live kind of out of the way from our own home. But if he could drop the older kid off at the younger kid's school - that is perfect. Then, no gas necessary for us (we walk to that school).

That said, he's Mister Go-Getter and I figured he's arranged some elaborate carpool at this point. The reality? Absolutely no one will carpool with him. Oh, how we love our cars. (Seriously though, don't ask me what everyone is thinking. This like bankruptcy/foreclosure central. People here are broke. & yet we all drive to pick up one kid - it's totally ridiculous).

This is not the end of the story. BM's bestie's family is all way into the carpool thing because dh has generated some very good karma with the "always available for last minute babysitting" thing. So, what they basically tell me is they would prefer to just pick up BM *every single day* if we just can return the favor with some babysitting. Sounds like a match made in heaven. (They really don't ask for much babysitting, and ends up being more play time for the kids than anything else).

So, there you go. Somehow I swung the *perfect carpool* without even trying. Phew!

To adjust to the potential cost and the fleetingness of carpool arrangements, I will probably just put $1 to the mortgage, for every day we don't have to drive BM home, in the interim. Something like that - I will ponder.

**I am tired and it's late, but holy cow the foreclosures are fast and furious these days. More falling dominoes. It really never seems to end around here... I guess more on all that later.

Is My Luck Turning? Just This and That...

August 18th, 2013 at 04:27 pm

**I don't know if this is a sign that my luck is turning. But, my Zappos credit has still never materialized. I decided to get a few things done today and did an online chat to resolve. I just want my refund, but they were very apologetic and sent me a $35-off coupon. Woohoo! Now I am GLAD it got lost. Big Grin Heck, I hope they lose my credit again. Wink

I had been waiting for a credit card reward to buy some replacement tennis shoes. Not in sore need for them, but just thinking ahead. My shoes are 3 years old and starting to fall apart a bit. Showing signs of wear, anyway, though I think they have some life left. So, I just bought a replacement pair. $15 out of pocket. I am thrilled with that purchase.

**I got a free offer for a canvas print - Walgreens. I had a few gifts in mind, though I'd have to pay for shipping. Decided to do a print for Grandma - some pictures my dad took of the family a couple of months ago. Was intended to be a gift for her, but not sure if anyone made prints for her. If I ever get another similar offer (who knows) then I have an idea for my Dad. I'd have done an England trip picture, but they didn't really have a good photograph for that. It would have been a nice keepsake if that had a great picture. So yes, I had a LOT of ideas...

**We finally did a belated last minute birthday thing for BM. Spent about $50 for his favorite play place and tried a new Mongolian BBQ place - both about 25 miles away. Dinner was only $5 for the kids - always a steal for us at "All You can Eat" - with the way our kids eat.

So, I can cross that off the list.

**I did not really do a lot this week, but with all the errands and birthday stuff and yadda yadda, it was kind of exhausting. I find work to be way less exhausting, I guess. I thrive on a schedule, so always seem to flounder when I don't have a set schedule.

Today I am trying to be productive. Cleaned up a bit, am making dinner, stuff like that.

**I actually had $130 in returns this week, so might have spent less than I returned. Phew! We spent about $15 on cat stuff, $30 on lunch out (just dh and I), $50 on birthday stuff. $8 (with tip) on haircut for older child. This basically means that I paid for all this stuff last month. The returns will offset the costs this month. I had returned another pair of shoes at Payless, and a garden hose at Home Depot (dh had bought a shorter hose when we had no water, but decided against using it for whatever reason).

I think we are going for a pretty low spend month the rest of the month. Splurged a wee bit on our Staycation. We are actually eating a lot of rice and lentils, for sure.

Oh - and I had one more cost to offset the returns - to make it even steven. Our water bill was +$25. We lost 20,000 gallons with our water leak - is that right? Glad to close that chapter. & relieved it wasn't like $200 or something. !! You hear of that happening with less obvious leaks. It helps to live in a water wasting city - they don't really reward you for conserving or penalize you for tons of waste. So, "phew" for this month?

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I am feeling very relaxed and blase about money stuff these days.

I think two reasons:

1 - We did a "save for one thing at a time" approach, which is helpful when you have $6,000 in entirely unexpected home repairs in the course of a couple of weeks. WE may delay funding ROTHs until April, so we don't have to dip into our cash. (I have until August 31st to pay off the plumbing bill - charged on credit - and will get two more paychecks before then).

Anyway, in this situation, just glad to be saving everything to cash right now. This does not mean our ROTH is a secondary goal by *any* means. Is definitely the primary goal. It's just, if we can wait until April without slowing down any other goals, then that makes us happy. Win-win.

2 - With the markets doing so well these days, and considering the big picture, it's hard to sweat the small stuff. Net worth is up six figures, year-to-date. All in all, not much to complain about.

School & HVAC

August 15th, 2013 at 06:32 am

**Kids went back to school. Our return rate on lost items is officially 100%. A lunch box that disappeared last year (a long time ago?) showed up over the summer. So it got returned to us yesterday (because had our name in it!). Woohoo. OF course, when kids first started school we were way more broke and always made me nervous if they would lose things or whatever. They've both been pretty responsible, but LM does like to misplace his lunchbox. IT's just they always usually turn up much faster. This one had been bought on clearance for Christmas so I wasn't sweating it. In fact, BM had been the one to buy it for him. But, is nice to have it back, for sure! (I had already stocked up on some extras on clearance, so are well stocked for a while).

**Got to check out the new campus situation for older kids, and it is GREAT. It is about 5 miles away, so that part is not so great. Kind of on the way to work, so it's the afternoon pickup that is really a pain. Still plan to work out some carpooling. But anyway, the "parking and walk in" situation is GREAT over there. The last location I basically refused to go over there ever to pick up child. There was ample space to park and walk in, but was just a very dangerous kind of situation. If I had to drive there every day, probably would have been in an accident (or two or three). Having so much room was a bit of a problem because the cars were just pure chaos.

Oh, and in addition, we actually have time to pick up other child. (Allowing more time due to the distance). So, PHEW!! This year should be *much* better. Since it's a normal school on a normal street with normal traffic rules, the chaos factor was significantly reduced. Not that I don't still feel my odds of accident are 100 times higher by any of the schools - those parents are totally insane. !!

With these school situations, it becomes crystal clear that the most basic of thought and planning can improve quality of life very significantly. We arrived a little early and strategized a bit on best place to park. It seems that literally 99% of parents chose to partake in traffic hell. We turned around and parked on the exit side of things. (Everyone parking on the other side of the street got trapped by the massive traffic jam). I only saw two other cars park where we did, which was about 5 feet from the school. If history repeats itself, no one else will *ever* figure it out. (Because getting in and out very quickly, using your own two feet, seems to be too much hassle for the vast majority). I don't understand people.

Oh, and then there was endless ranting online about how horrific the situation was. I thought it was quite pleasant. Wink But, I don't think you could pay me to ever go through a school pickup in a car. I'd go postal.

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**We redeemed a free AC tune-up with our service contract (bought to reduce plumbing costs). They recommended $1200 of work discounted to $1100, on our heating and air systems. $800 AC and $300 Heater.

So, we called out our HVAC guy. He agreed with the AC assessment, but was able to fix it for $600. Phew! In fact, he initially said $450 (same as quoted over phone) but he had not realized we needed some extra parts for this repair. He was able to just fix it while he was here though, so back to 100% function on the AC.

Not surprisingly, he told us the heater repair was completely unnecessary. Heck, he didn't even look at it. So, that was $600 saved with one phone call. I don't even know if it was worth calling out the other guy.

Staycation

August 13th, 2013 at 08:04 am

**Taking a Staycation this week. Kids start school, so it's a good week to get a little extra time with them, partake in school activities, and then have some quiet and peace for half the week.

**We did a nice hike on Sunday, as an "end of summer" hoorah. Had a no-spend weekend as our only expense was gas (filled up the empty tank on Monday). My parents felt extra sorry for me and so bought us two meals while we stayed with them.

The hike we did was not far from where I lived through college - had never heard of the place. Figures... Went up in the mountains and there were some pretty crazy rocks for the kids to climb. Probably a dumb time to do something like that, but we all got out in once piece. Phew!!

**Yesterday I took the kids to get their 7%-interest accounts open.

It is all said and done, but because they are "kid accounts" I have to go in person to set up an external transfer account. ??? VERY annoying. & more annoyed that they had not told me this when I was there (I mentioned we had money to transfer over. & since it is the year 2013, I did mean electronically). That said, it appears that the kids can do mobile deposits. Go figure. It's still a pain, because I am trying to write zero checks, and had to write checks for them to deposit. But, I suppose could save us some gas for the long haul. I decided on principal that I did not want to go get my external transfer account set up. At least it's a very local branch.

We are going back today because BM has some coins to deposit. They told me change counting and depositing was free, under $250. Since we don't particularly use cash, we don't have change of that magnitude. Is fine for our needs. Wink (I'd be surprised if each kid had $20 in change). I will have to talk LM into depositing his too.

The 7% is on first $500. BM is already up to $400, and is extremely motivated to get to $500. I don't think it's a 100% bad thing that they literally have to go to the branch to pull money out. Probably a good lesson for them. Though for the long run, they will both have $500 there and will probably save spending money in their other low-interest savings account. (Which I pull money from electronically, when they need it).

Today is quite the errand day, because I have a couple of returns, and am taking BM for his $5.99 hair trim. Meet the teachers, post office, and stuff like that. (Dh sold a game and the kids finished their Birthday Thank Yous. So we figured we'd drop by the post office while we are out).

We'd probably skip today since we know the teachers (one is our immediate neighbor!). BUT, BM is at a new campus and we want to go check that out. They can see where they are sitting and such and where their classrooms are. (The other is walking distance so we will just walk over. Can't say we'd go, otherwise).

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**I mentioned our AC was acting up, and we had bought a service plan to save a significant sum on our plumbing repair. SO, we called them out to tune up the AC yesterday.

I Was a little wary because our strategy (which I got from my dad) is to never tune up anything. Our stuff seems to last longer than average. Though, I admit there can be many reasons for this (one being that we don't throw away broken things; we just fix them). So my dad and I have had discussions about that - how the more you have people knocking around and messing with your stuff, the more seems to go wrong over time. Mainly thinking to appliances and cars.

SO... I wasn't overly thrilled about the whole thing. But, on the flip side, no one has looked at our AC in 12 years (since it was installed). & this was free...

So they came out yesterday and spent a heck of a lot of time fiddling with our AC. Hopefully it was useful at all. They did a thorough testing of everything and generally found nothing wrong (no surprises there since is very efficient and everything; not surprised to hear we have no leaks or so on). But recommended $800 in repairs - I believe it was replacing a couple of parts in the attic (The blower/not the actual AC unit). Overall, said it was a great unit and that they tend to last 20 years. So, phew!! I think it went about as well as it could have, considering we have had problems. We figured something could need repairing, but didn't expect more than a repair.

Oh, they also recommended that we replace a part on our heater.

Since it is mild this week, we went back and forth a bit on it, as this could maybe wait until Fall and lower prices, but decided to call out our AC/Heater guy. It's slow enough that he could come out today. Over the phone he quoted $450 for the same repair. To be fair, he did not look up the specific model, so not holding my breath too much. But would like his opinion, and expect him to be cheaper if the diagnosis is the same.

Back to School

August 9th, 2013 at 06:56 am

It's hard to believe that it is that time of year!! This summer definitely flew by for us (BM kept a wee bit busy, so we didn't relax much).

We will plan a staycation of sorts to end the summer. Haven't decided if we will go to the beach or on a different kind of hike. We will definitely enjoy some free nature. Big Grin

Class rosters were released.

So... This teacher and this principal we know got married and rented a house behind us. When they first moved in we really teased the kids about it. "Your future teacher and/or principal live right behind us!!" When they moved in, the teacher had a new baby and quit working, so I kind of forgot about it over the past year or two.

Had totally forgotten about that, or assume she was retired for a while, or whatever. Well, guess who LM's teacher is next year?? HA! I think that will be a little interesting.

I have no BTS shopping to do. School's only been out a couple of months, so not much has changed (kids are same size; weather is same; backpacks are fine).

I did pay $130 to the school for field trips and supplies. I skipped the older child's field trip fee because it was $200. They are doing some camp thing at the end of the year, so I figured that could wait. Overall, I was pleased because I thought it was more expensive? Will find out more - I know they try to fundraise for a lot of it. I somehow doubt that is all we will have to come up with, for this field trip.

I am not sure if lunch prices are still the same (looks like they are though). The kids have a few dollars in their accounts, so will wait and see what the actual charges are. I generally deposit $100 in August to cover the first half of the school year.

All of the above we save all year for, so not having to come up with the money. I could pay for the field trip(s) today, but rather wait and learn more first.

BM is getting shipped off to a new location a few miles away. It's good in many senses, because they were given an actual *school* location. Last year worked out better than imagined, so trying to be optimistic. (But the building they were in last year really sucked, so glad to be done with that place). I think we are going to have to cave and do the carpool thing. The gas and wear and tear is going to be ridiculous otherwise. We've really resisted having to conform to a schedule and giving up that flexibility. But, it's probably time. On the plus side, though I am not sure how long they will fit at this location (I hope it's more long-term), when the kids are older they may be able to ride home the city bus or just hang out at the library after school or something. IT has some good long-term potential, since the kids might be there until 8th grade.

The Jinx Continues...

August 8th, 2013 at 05:56 am

Well, it is *never* boring here. !!!

I am not sure we had a day of peace since July 23. Yesterday I made it through the day and to the land of zzzzzs without much event. But when the kids went to bed it woke me up, and it was kind of warm. & so I flipped on the A/C (also thinking to cool down the kids' rooms). Dh came up a minute later. I figured he just heard me awake and wanted to say good night or something. Nope. He asked if I turned on the A/C because...

It sounds BROKEN.

Seriously...

Couldn't make it *one* day without finding something broken, calling contractors, researching contractors, or dealing with contractors. At least dh had a bit of a breather - he must be going *insane*. I mostly get to go to work and let him deal with all this. HE at least had a quiet day!

Ironically, we bought some service plan from the plumber, so we figure we will call them out first. It gave us a substantial discount on the plumbing repair, and they would do tune up on all of our major appliances (A/C and heater and I forget what else). I figured we'd just start there because it's free.

I am not utterly and entirely jinxed because tomorrow is supposed to be like 20 degrees below average. PHEW!

Financially, the jinx is annoying me. I had a credit card payment and a mortgage payment lost in space. ??? Could have been the credit union. BUT, then the mortgage payment hit after a week, but they left the extra principal unapplied. ??? I also had two returns to a retailer, shipped. One made it back and was credited about a week ago. The other one is shown as received by tracking, but not on their website, and no credit. *Bangs head on wall* I don't have to pay any bills for about 3 weeks, and I don't intend to. Everything I touch seems to be messed up! The credit card payment did eventually show up, but it seems no avoiding follow up on the other two. [I can't recall *ever* have any problems with any of the above - so this is just crazy}.

Emotionally, I think I checked out quite a while ago. Obviously I have no say in any of this. For anyone who has never particularly read my blog, we tend to keep up on things around the house. IT's not like we keep everything in disrepair. Wink I am not sure if it is just so beyond our control that we don't even *care* any more. OR, there is also that we have dealt with so many health problems (us and loved ones) in recent years, that we just can't muster a lot of emotional energy for this stuff. I don't know. Maybe a little of both. It could be we are just both spent on the emotional front. We lost our pet earlier in the year, we both had loved ones in the hospital, yadda yadda. But I think we both have a renewed perspective that "stuff is stuff" and I can't say we care that much. We have plenty of savings to weather the storm, so no point stressing over it.

We did replace our garage door and that is *divine*. I am not upset about that at all. Forced to do it at a bad time, BUT, it's really nice, and we can cross that off the to-do list.

To be continued...

Our Garage Door Broke Last Night

August 5th, 2013 at 09:07 am

Murphy is getting on my last nerve. !!!

That is all...

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

August 4th, 2013 at 07:35 am

I woke up, and our brand new computer does not seem to be working. Rolleyes

I am hoping the cat just walked behind it and pulled a cable. (Though dh may want to murder the cat if that is the case - he is not appreciating the wild little bugger).

But, anyway, I am not freaking out yet... But the kids suggested we should move. LOL.
!
I hadn't thought about it too much because I am not much of a "past dweller" and tend to take things just one thing at a time. (& I can at least appreciate it is always one thing at a time). BUT, I thought back on the past year, and it has basically been pretty terrible. Frown I think I am *over* 2013!!! I suppose I am reaching the end of my patience with everything.

To be continued...

--------------------------------------------------

Okay, dh woke up and fixed it. Phew!!!! He had plugged something into the computer in regards to his cell phone woes, and that was causing the computer not to boot properly. (Though it did take him a while to figure out and he was freaking out a bit too).

So relieved...

Bank Doings

August 3rd, 2013 at 12:12 pm

**Well, after about 8 or 9 days, we finally got all our water fixed. Phew!!

We've actually had our water back for a few days, but everything else was endless problem and delays. Having never had a big job like this before, I would say it went about as good as it could have. Especially without having a lot of time to make a big decision! I actually expected much worse (just, you know, talking to anyone who has ever done a big project in their home). The delays were minor annoyances. I am just glad it is 100% over.

I suppose it's only 99% over because we have to get our lawn fixed now. The damage was very minimal, so I am not expecting it will be much money time or effort to get the lawn back to 100%. It's just one more minor annoyance.

**I decided to cash out my Capital One account. I earned $152 for depositing $500 in there (& for getting two referrals). I had to wait 30 days to withdraw the bonus. I was initially planning to close the account. But the interest was not half bad. But then again, I only put it in my name because I planned to close the account. I can probably do better shopping around.

Anyway, with having to pull out so much from savings anyway, decided to just close the account and do some higher interest research. Would like to keep an eye on rates for a while before I jump - I don't want to be stuck with some temporary promotional rate. I don't know if I can improve upon what I already have.

Oh, and I have closed enough bank accounts recently to not expect it to be a big deal. Usually all it takes is an e-mail. BUT, how awesome is this? I transferred all my money out of the account while I was thinking about it, and was thinking of just e-mailing them later to officially close the account. When I did the transfer it automatically closed the account. The End.

I don't do many (any?) bank bonuses because usually there are too many hoops to jump through (particularly since we don't have any direct deposits). But, um, I will take more of these type deals. Big Grin

**So, Jeffrey posted something interesting in the forums, about a 10% interest rate he found for a child's account.

I wasn't particularly moved because the requirement for 10% was that the parents had to bank at the institution.

But I did peruse this list a little bit out of curiosity:

http://www.depositaccounts.com/savings/childrens-savings-acc...

A local credit union topped the list, but I Wasn't overly sold because it was a CU we ruled out several years ago for being pretty terrible (lots of fees, and very low interest rates).

I didn't see anything on this CU's website about us parents having to have accounts there, so I called today out of curiosity. I figured that had to be the catch, and was pretty sure I did not want to open an account there (if fees outweighed benefits). In the end, they told me the kids could open the accounts without us. Woohoo!! I am so excited about this!

Not only that, but I looked up how long the offer had been on the table, because I didn't want to go through all this hassle for some temporary promotion. Well, I saw 7% going back to 2007 or 2008, so I think it will be worth it...

No fees until the kids are 18. Only the first $500 receives the 7% interest rate. Both my kids have around $250 in their savings accounts. & their accounts will be growing a LOT faster now. We only opened their current accounts to deposit gifts made out to them (at some point our CU stopped letting us cash them or put them in our account). The 1 or 2 or 3 cents of monthly interest was fine for very little kids. But, I think the 7% will be more interesting and motivating for them. & a good lesson for them to shop around. I mean, don't I feel infinitely stupid for not getting them 7% for all these years. Duh!!

Marketing Humor

August 1st, 2013 at 05:28 pm

Well, I have had some interesting things to share, but am kind of drowning in fiscal bull crap at the moment. Gah! Murphy can move on to the next house now, thanks!

So, yeah, the whining and complaining can wait, and probably a lot of the interesting things I could have blogged about will be forgotten. Oh well!

Anyway, if you have not caught TED Talks on Netflix (or Youtube?) definitely check them out. "Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world." I guess there is also Ted.com (where I saw this quote).

We were watching one last night and it was just HILARIOUS:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5ds7WzVeew

My particularly favorite moment was at 2:42 Big Grin

I think this is extremely relative for personal finance, so had to share.

HELP!! Cell Phone Wizards?

August 1st, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Gah, What a Week!!!

Dh's cell phone just DIED. We actually tend to keep our phones for 4+ years, and anyway, have aboslutely *never* had a phone die in contract. The phone is 14 months old; warranty is 12 months.

Dh went over to the Sprint store and they are totally insane over there. They think we want to pay $800 up front to keep our cell phone service. The workaround they offered was we could buy a tablet for $450, and pay an additional $5/month for it. But you know, that is what you get when you talk to sales people.

{Maybe the timing isn't half bad with our huge home repair bill. I think dh was in an extra "Are you Insane?!?" kind of mood. Though I think he is peeved enough anyway, regardless of other factors}.

Plan B is to call the retention department. If they rather us walk away and cancel our contract, then whatever. We were quoted $200-ish for that, which is so far by a mile the best option they offered. I find it hard to believe they rather us walk away than find a more sane solution. BUT... I have been surprised before.

Anyway, so I throw this out just to see if anyone has been in this situation and what they did. ?????????? Or any ideas to just get cheaper service??

I am sending him all sorts of Ting links and yadda yadda, but this is still a tough sell for him. He did tell me a new phone was $600 from Ting. I sent him the link for their used phones and told him the rest of us could switch over without buying any phones. I am still not convinced he is being 100% logical. But this is maybe the best bet I have since he is really backed into a corner.

He is so PEEVED that he is seriously talking about going phoneless. This is probably the cheapest option, but not the most helpful from a *boycott* standpoint since we'd have to keep paying his line.