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Archive for March, 2015

Doings: Nom nom nom, Anniversary, Library

March 19th, 2015 at 07:15 pm

**We have a corned beef and cabbage tradition this time of year but Saturday dh made it in the crockpot. O.M.G. (I couldn't tell you why we hadn't tried that before since we us our crockpot so much). 5 stars!

We will probably have again this week.

Saturday we invited up the in-laws and they brought up a pie for Pi day. We ate too well! We also had Irish soda bread.

**I didn't end up going out last week for lunch and I hadn't thought about the kids having short days all this week. So we will have to make sure to get a lunch date in the week after.

Maybe for the best. I wasn't overly stressed this past week and we will be taking the kids out to celebrate their A+ report cards. Initially their wants were very modest, as they tend to be. But I think now they both want to go out to two different restaurants. I am fine with it. They always do well, but lots of A+s this past trimester. Extra impressive since 6th grade has been pretty intense for older child.

Oh, and another reason to celebrate! Dh and I met 20 years ago! Crazy! We will quietly celebrate that alongside the kids' successes. (I don't know the exact day, but was March 1995. We met one the first day of our seasonal job when we both transferred to the same department - was the tail end of our freshman year in college. We probably would have crossed paths eventually, regardless, as we were both studying for the same degree at the same college and worked several years for the same Company).

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**So our library started a program where they will lend out more things. "Library of Things". I had heard about it but just saw that starts this weekend and they will have an online catalog on Monday. Off the top of my head, I saw sewing machines, Go Pro, board games, etc.

My spouse and kids collect board games and it would be so nice to be able to try more of them before buying them. My dh also noticed they have video games. Which historically we are more apt to rent or to buy used and sell afterwards. But I guess there is no one really renting out video games at the moment. (Er, there is nowhere dirt cheap to rent video games, like we have done for the past 20 years or whatever. At this point it makes more sense just to buy used and sell for the same price when done. We are used to renting games for essentially nothing). The library option might be a nice alternative.

Of course, this library is right by my office, so very convenient. I have the feeling I will be picking up things for the family once in a while.

Found a Treasure!

March 13th, 2015 at 01:09 pm

**We car shop so much less than average that it's always an entirely different economy and environment when we do. As such, our biggest car shopping tip is to be flexible and to keep your eyes open. Which means I have *no idea* how this will end up. I don't know what deal we will eventually stumble across.

The *perfect* car came up for sale a few blocks from my office. So we were able to test drive it without taking too much time from our day.

The car was a little more beat up than advertised and gave us an appreciation for the high quality of our cars. (Not bad, but our cars, even our much older one of a similar make, has absolutely nothing in disrepair on the inside). I had been thinking we didn't want to deal with selling private party but that experience made me change my mind. It also made me think about how we never bought a car before in our current city (more extreme temps) and how a garaged car will likely be a deal breaker for us. I was just feeling extremely picky about it.

A wagon sounds ugly as heck but I was pleasantly surprised by the look when I started perusing them online. But this is the thing. I don't see a lot of cars and don't know what the general look is, but I felt like late 2000s wagons are look kind of 1970-ish on the inside. I don't know. I really didn't like it, though I could probably get over it if the car had been immaculate. The irony is that I saw a subaru of the same year that looked the same inside, so maybe it's a wagon thing. I have a 2005 vehicle and I think it looks much more sleek or modern on the inside. Are other cars of that year so ugly? Or is it a wagon thing? Like people want to remember their 1970s station wagons?

So anyway, it was good to make sure we weren't totally wasting our time and I now think we will make the effort to sell our van ourselves. Being garaged makes a world of difference.

We are also keeping an eye out in the Bay Area too and might rather buy a car from a more temperate climate. It's fairly temperate here but the summers can be pretty extreme and I realized that looking at such a low miles car that looked a little more beat up than I expected it would be.

Anyway, I am sure we can work it out if we find the *right* car and am not too worried about it. But as is, I Wasn't planning to buy a car this week and didn't have $5,000 cash on me. So, anyway, the car had been listed for 24 hours when I noticed it and I got to see it right away. When we get there, the guy starts going on and on about how his phone is blowing up and everyone wants the car. Rolleyes Which really turned me off. I just didn't want to deal with that. I figured he was lying, but it wasn't immaculate and I wasn't going to take the rest of the day off work to arrange the cash. We were actually test driving it, he kept going on and on and on, so I turned around and said nevermind. I figured he was exaggerating a little too much. If we really wanted to buy it that day I would have just rolled my eyes and moved on, but as is, he pushed me off the fence.

For reference, the last car I bought private party was a Mustang convertible, similarly aged, half as many miles (about 30k). No one wanted it but me. So yeah, it's hard to imagine people are lining up for a Ford wagon.

Well, what do you know, the next morning the listing was gone. He might have not been totally lying. & holy crap! That really frustrates me as to the used car market. I've never shopped in a used car market where other people actually wanted used cars. Or where anyone else actually wanted an extremely frugal and practical car.

To be continued...

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So, my dh is a bit of a hoarder. He knows that about himself and keeps it under control. I am sure he owns less crap than the average American. (He is used to living in a small space, for one, and plans for that in the long run). But he is also married to Ms. Spartan and I think it's just way too much.

Well, my dh may have found a treasure in his hoard!

I believe he wanted to sell an old guitar, you know, sitting around for like 20 years without being used at all like most his stuff. I think he wanted to sell it for a couple of hundred bucks to buy some video games or whatever.

So he starts looking it up online and sees this guitar valued for about $1,200. ??? HE bought it in college and can't imagine that he paid more than like $400 for it. OF course, he dug further and it's a rare guitar that is now worth closer to $1,500. ($1,200 was more like a 2010 valuation).

Holy Cow! We've got an appreciating asset!

The timing is so odd. I can really really do boring. Trust me! But the idea of selling a treasure to pay down our mortgage by 0.05% or investing it or whatever sounds SO boring. I don't know that I Want to do "boring" with this treasure. Boring is what we always do and this is exciting! OF course, on top of that, we are in a big year of splurge and so my dh could not imagine spending one penny of it. (Except maybe like $50 of it that he wanted to cash out in the first place).

The timing is odd because most of the last 13 years or whatever we probably could have used the money. I would have done boring.

So we are both feeling "meh" on the whole thing. Which is maybe for the best. Sounds like we should just keep it as long as it is appreciating.

To be continued...

HE did take it out for a valuation, just to be sure. Sounded too good to be true! So anyway, while he was out, he took an old band instrument I have been meaning to sell. It maybe came to mind in the last year that I should sell it. He found a music store who offered consignment with a 75% pay out. They estimated we could get $300 net if we sold it without any repairs. They didn't discuss repairing it first. I don't know if this was the best offer or just most people wouldn't put in the money. I would repair it if it would pay off. So we will have to go back later to discuss the terms of consignment and if that is really the best option. It sounds like it might be.

It's a depreciating asset that I can do "boring" with. Big Grin

Both of the above instruments were purchased used. As most our musical instruments were.

This & That

March 9th, 2015 at 03:20 pm

I met with widowed client last week and it was just awful. Will have to nag everyone about their wills and life insurance later. Though I know that no one will listen. The problem is most people don't see all the consequences of not having all that stuff in order. I see it way too much. I could never do that to my family!

Widow will be fine because she has been supporting her family all these years anyway, has a great job, and is a very strong woman. But, it's just I can't believe her husband didn't put her names on his accounts and stuff like that. *sigh*

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I was out of sorts after that meeting. Friday I called dh to rescue me. Just had to get the heck out of there and couldn't focus, so he took me to lunch. (I had met with client the day before? But I just felt so emotionally bogged down on Friday). We haven't been religiously doing our lunch dates and so I am thinking we should plan to meet up the next 3 weeks. The lunches might pay for themselves. I think I was much more refreshed and productive on Saturday after our nice lunch date, and I do get paid OT. 3 more weeks of crazy busy with dh here and then he will be gone for a couple of weeks. So that's potentially 4 lunches out in exchange for some extra sanity. Plus last Friday was very unplanned and we paid too much for a so-so meal. We can plan ahead and eat better food for less money like we usually do. (We just kind of drew a blank last week because we hadn't eaten out in a while, I didn't want to drive to meet him anywhere, and more eateries by my office have shut down. On the way to somewhere else we remembered there is a great little Greek restaurant we had found, so maybe we will eat there this week).

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Dh took some cash out of the ATM yesterday. I had received a note that our ATM card would expire and not be renewed if we did not make a transaction. We initially decided not to bother with it since we absolutely never use the ATM.

But as the expiration of the card approached I decided that it wouldn't hurt to just keep it. If we really never use it before now and next expiry we can re-evaluate at that point.

Anyway, I was frustrated with dh because he didn't know the PIN #. Though he is the only one who has used it for like the last decade?? So I called and was relieved I was able to quickly change the PIN# over the telephone through some automated system. I probably should have done that a decade ago.

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Other than that, I am just waiting for deals to grace my e-mail.

I saw some crazy cheap sales for Hawaii airfare for even up to a year from now but flying out from cities in other states. But I know it's just a matter of time. I am waiting to jump on the first deal I see out of Northern California. Could be any day.

A couple of low-miles cars also crossed my e-mail but they just weren't "the one", for various reasons.

Travel Doings, Car Doings, and Sad News

March 1st, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Well I've never had travel abroad plans, that we actually paid for, get quite this far. So hopefully that's a good sign! We got our airfare booked a couple of days ago. I will send my dad a check for dh's airfare tomorrow when I get paid. $1100 for that, which is about the amount I was sending to saving anyway tomorrow. So that works out fine. I think we will settle up the rest when they return in April. Which means I probably won't dip into savings at all. I am expecting a big OT check in April.

I am relieved my parents really and truly are covering my son. (They can be kind of wishy washy with gifts, so I feel better now that the airfare is paid for).

Which reminds me, it is amazing what people assume! Obviously we could never afford to plan and save up for a trip like this and obviously my dad is paying for everything! What I don't get, beyond all else, is why everyone assumes my dad would pay for my husband to go on this trip? The grandson assumptions are at least a little more understandable. (Could be very wrong too, but are more understandable).

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I received an e-mail that Hawaii fares were going on sale through September travel. (We are going in October). Apparently this sale was 3 months ahead of the usual. I am glad I signed up for a website that keeps on top of that and we are ready to jump on the first October flight sale. No rush, but with low gas prices and everything I feel it's good just to jump on anything that pops up below $400 per person. I want to just lock it in and be done. I thought we would do that in June, but I guess it might be sooner!

Maybe some unexpected cash outflow, earlier than planned, but I don't mind when it is for something fun like this!

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In other news, we have had a bit of car serendipity.

I am kind of having this "DOH" moment because though we have been wanting to sell our minivan forever and always figured a time of low gas prices would be more ideal to do so... The reality is all my brain was thinking, "I can actually drive the van! It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to drive it!" Now that gas prices are low.

DOH!

To be fair, I have been way more focused on replacing dh's 15-year-old car, at this point. We are in the very early talking stages on that. But I think this is also some of why the van fell off our radar.

Anyway, I don't remember how we got on cars last weekend but I was looking at some and feeling very frustrated with internet information overload. We bought our last cars fairly new and figured we had so long to save up to replace them that we would just do the same this round. But after seeing small car after small car each having some major deal breaker, I was getting frustrated. We have a very basic car and the bar should be set pretty low. But it's really set pretty high as to fuel efficiency, reliability, safety, etc. We aren't really finding anything newer that compares.

Feeling frustrated, I checked out Mr. Money mustache's car recommendation page and mostly struck out. In my opinion, too much emphasis on more costly name brands. I think our strategy is to more go for not what everyone else is buying. Much better deals that way. That said, he also had a lot of more used car recommendations and maybe that is where we will eventually end up when we replace dh's car. We just aren't to that point yet.

But something struck me from his car page. He recommended my dh's car, years 2005 - 2009 I think, in the wagon version. If you want something a little more roomy and fuel efficient.

Ding ding ding!! I told my dh I had a plan to replace our 2005 minivan and he is totally in. I set up a google alert and have been receiving on average one new car listing daily. (Who knew there were so many wagons of this specific model?? I have absolutely never seen one). It helps to have access to a few super major metropolitan areas. I had written off a couple with 90k or 130k miles (my van has 120k miles) and everything since has been like 200k+ or 300k+ miles. Yeesh! But that is making me more confident in this decision. I don't really want to buy something until May anyway and so for now I am just kind of gauging the market. That said, if anything pops up that is "perfect" we would buy it today.

I am expecting to pay $5k-ish for the fuel efficiency upgrade and to sell our minivan for $2k-ish. Though I'd happily pay a little more for something with lower miles that will last longer. That's probably more what we want anyway. I know if we are patient something with really low miles will pop up.

Well that's our crazy plan for now. Will see...

I have never shopped for a specific vehicle before, but I guess the internet helps with that and this is very in line with our usual strategy to stick with something that no one else wants. This whole experience is probably going to make me very love/hate as to car shopping in the internet age. It's got its pluses and its minuses.

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Well, my client lost his lengthy (and terrible) battle with brain cancer last month. Frown I just found out Friday and have been very sad about that. He leaves behind a wife my age and two young children. He was obviously too young.

February Savings

March 1st, 2015 at 04:26 pm

Received $42 bank interest for the month of February.

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards to our ROTH

Savings (From paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$300 to cash
+$900 to IRAs**

**2014 Maxed out in Feb. On to 2015!

I updated sidebar for all of the above.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$515 for insurance, smog check, registration (autos)

The combination of low gas prices and putting some more wiggle room in our budget has been great! Our fuel expense was $75 lower than average last month though we made several trips to the Bay Area. Our usual strategy is to way over-save up front. Which is fine - it works very well for us. But this year our savings pace seems more realistic with our budget. OF course, I am fine with relaxing the budget because I am happy with our savings pace. (I'd say we are still pretty aggressive on the "pay ourselves first" but just not as much as the last couple of years. I still don't foresee ever having a penny left over at the end of the month to add to savings. It's relative).

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An update to our free month of Amazon prime (trial): Dh got bored with the TV shows because we can pretty much get 90%+ of what we want elsewhere. (Which is what he has always said and why we have not gotten Prime before. Just that Hulu and Netlfix makes more sense for our personal tastes). Anyway, so our free trial expired yesterday I believe and now dh doesn't want to pay for it. So, phew! I may still do the free year but haven't gotten around to opening that credit card yet.