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Archive for July, 2015

This & That

July 31st, 2015 at 12:29 pm

**Dh got our internet bumped from 18mbps to 100mbps. Same price. He saw some promo for "new customers" and called and asked. Which was initially annoying me, but then he reminded me it was probably almost time to call and haggle our bill anyway.

In the meantime, dh may really annoy me when our deal expires in a year. I figured maybe he'd get it out of his system and not find it worth the extra money. But so far everyone in the house is over the moon with the mega fast internet. Then again, dh is too cheap if they triple the price on us. He will only keep it if it is worth it to keep it. So, will see...

Who knows, maybe we can get google or Ting fiber next year?? Big Grin (Probably not, but expecting for cheaper/better options in the long run).

**Speaking of "It never hurts to ask"... BM didn't particularly care for the fitbit (birthday gift) and then it stopped working this week. It was from dh's parents but dh had ordered it and had been reimbursed. He checked online and the return period had closed a few days ago. He called Amazon anyway and they already issued us a complete refund to our credit card. It's Amazon, so I am not surprised. We have 30 days to return it (which I am sure dh already did).

BM hasn't decided how to spend the $80 yet. We will figure something out.

**Our third free month with Ting just closed (I had referrals galore). I noticed when looking at the bill that I had received another referral credit. Woohoho! I almost wonder if it was a mistake because dh never received an e-mail about it. How random!

We probably have two more full free months.

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**I am working on some staycation plans to bookend the kids' summer. (We started their summer break with camp and will do some fun things before school starts). Otherwise it's been summer school and medical stuff here. Not a very exciting summer.

I don't want to spend money because our vacation spending was crazy this year (like 4 x our budget) AND I want to save some money for Hawaii!

--I saw that a local pool has an inflatable obstacle course. O.M.G. The cost is similar to the kids' favorite indoor play place, BUT, the adults have to pay at the pool. Which makes it twice as pricey... I think it's worth us all going to check it out. This looks like BM's version of heaven. If they have fun, we can take them one adult at a time in the future.

--We will redeem some free museum tickets from our library (a trick I saw on SA a while back). It will give us some free entertainment and will try something new.

--They are also going to spend a few days with Grandma and hang out with the cousins.

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Today concludes our month of CRAZY. Phew!! No more summer school or medical appointments. Dh filled up his gas tank 4 times, we got one free tank of gas, and he said he will probably need gas again Saturday.

I don't know if August will be much better. We are driving to the Bay Area twice and to San Diego as well. But is a lot more "fun driving" than "crazy commuting."

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One of our favorite musicians did another "house show". The first two we went to actually ended up being in more like warehouses or businesses and so this time we got the *real* experience. It was in someone's backyard. IT was a potluck but the food was phemonemal. It was SO FUN!

Recipe I need to look up or try to get: salmon cheesecake. It was more of a spread for appetizers (not an actual cake). YUM!

Phew!

July 26th, 2015 at 09:15 am

I am enjoying a quiet weekend. I am feeling relief on many fronts this week.

Dh is done with his medical treatments. Woohoo! Now it's just wait and see. & wait and wait and wait. We will know in a year or two if it is working at all. *sigh* But in the meantime, glad to put that crazy medical commute behind us.

Last week I also got over a big hump at work. We are doing a big project and had a training last week, for which a lot of pressure was put on me. Glad that is done and I think it was helpful for me starting to feel positive about the project as a whole. Maybe it will all work out alright. I wasn't so sure before.

Of course, I think it was stupid to hold this training the week before a big deadline, but I am also relieved that worked out well too. I foresee finishing my deadline work on Monday and still being able to take Tuesday off as planned. Phew!! We are going to a concert on Tuesday and I had warned dh there may be a 5% or so chance that I won't be able to get the time off. Seemed like I could probably make it work but sometimes when it rains it pours. If everything went wrong I wanted him to be forewarned. As is, deadline is Friday and I am probably more ahead of the curve than usual. Don't ask me how that worked out!

LM also started his acting class last week. We signed up ages ago for an early bird discount and he had agreed (which is so unlike him!). In the meantime he had a lead role in the school play and kind of got burned out. "Too much work!" Though he is so naturally talented. Anyway, so he was for sure a complainypants about having to go to this class after all. He tried with all his might to HATE this class but in the end he LOVED it. I think we have found the place for him. I am so happy on so many levels. Sure, I am glad I didn't waste my $400 or however much it was, but also so happy to see him in an extracurricular that gives him so much joy.

That said, it was a bit of a trying week. I thought he had outgrown some of his extreme mood swings. He mostly refused to go the second day. But when dh picked him up it had been the "Best Day Ever!" I guess we still have some of those days in store for us though they are extremely rare and few between. He's dramatic, what can I say.

So that is a lot of relief I feel after this past week.

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Still lots going on.

Still working through school red tape madness.

We've got some repairs to tend to around the house. Putting off no doubt until things settle down a wee bit.

Next week both the kids have classes every day so one more week of mega commuting here.

On the flip side...

Our wildlife encounter is in 4 or 5 weeks. Woohoo! I am sure I will share way more information about that once it's done or even as it approaches.

I did also buy our Hawaii airfare last week and so I guess that trip is official now. I also booked the kitty hotel and a rental car. The hotel is a free timeshare thing we booked a while ago. It's the airfare that is our big financial commitment on this one. Gosh, I guess we leave in just two months. Hard to believe!

Minutiae Post

July 18th, 2015 at 08:16 am

I got around to a "big picture" post, earlier. Hoping to have some time to do a "minutiae" post now.

**I didn't mention but we dropped off old car with an empty tank of gas and they gave us a full tank of gas on the new car. If there was ever a month we needed a free tank of gas! Phew! Nice how it worked out since we did not plan it that way at all.

Dh's dad also drove him to one of his medical treatments. That helped too! (Otherwise his family is out of the country so no in-law hysteria. Thank Goodness! You never know with them. I've just bracing myself for the craziness, but it never came. ??? They believe everything they read on the internet and so I'd expect them to be shipping off dh to Mexico for experimental treatment, or just something along those lines. Is how they are. Nevermind that some of the best medical worldwide facilities are in our own backyard. So... Phew!).

**I guess with all the summer family movies dh really wanted to take us to several movies. We found out in the last year that it's $5 at local theater on Tuesdays. (I gleamed this from Facebook. Dh initially disagreed with this information, but it turned out to be right. You think he would know his discount movies!) So I think it's the combo of the discount and all the summer family movies. I'm personally not much for wasting hours on movies (rather waste hours reading books!) But, I've been very open to it to make dh happy. Anything to make him happy during all this medical stuff! We spent $20 last week to see some movie. This week dh's dad had slipped him a gift card with a ? (leftover) balance on it. In the end the gift card had $12 and so we only paid $8 for us all to see a movie. Dh had also earned a free popcorn. That was a nice treat! I think next week they are going without me (though I could probably be swayed) and the week after that we are going to a concert.

Dh had already taken BM to see Jurassic World and Terminator. Dh is clearly in movie heaven. He's never really stopped going to the movies but usually just goes to matinees alone during the day, or is more inclined to wait and watch on our own home theater. I think he has enjoyed dragging us along. I don't know that BM is that much into the movies, but I think socially he likes saying he has seen the latest movies. (Dh is always trying to get us to watch older movies at home and for the most part no one else in the house is interested).

**I guess we've been going out more often than usual, but in our usual in-budget/frugal way.

The other thing is that the kids had their birthdays this week.

For LM's birthday the in-laws took him to lunch, took BM to dinner (well took us all out but each kid got to choose one). The kids both wanted pricey gifts this year and the in-laws were happy to oblige. Often just one of them wants something big and it's never been a big deal. But maybe with age it was nice they got more equal gifts.

Well, I should back up. Dh thought that BM would LOVE a Fitbit and I could certainly see why. BM's response was, "Why would you think that I would want that?" I'll have to ask him if it is growing on him. IT just seems like his kind of thing. He likes gadgets, data and exercise. Well, anyway, his brother saved the day. LM got him a giant exercise ball. Dh told me that he thinks that is probably the best gift BM has ever gotten in his life. Is using as a chair and otherwise rolling all over the house with it. (What can I say, he is easy to please).

He also has since asked for a new skateboard (bigger) which I will probably get him. He never asks for much of anything. For example, he did not ask for anything for his birthday. Just nothing he particularly wanted.

We got BM a used video game for $4 (something he really wanted but dh scored a deal on). & LM some nerf gun he wanted.

Dh took BM to the movies and out for sushi a couple of weeks ago. Kind of on the early side but made it a birthday thing. (While they were out I took LM to his favorite deli for lunch).

We invited LM's friend over to celebrate his birthday on Friday. His friend can't do sleepovers, or weekends. On Saturday we invited BM's friend over for a sleepover. In the morning I took them to their favorite indoor play place and then out for Mongolian BBQ. I don't know if that was ideal but the place is rarely open on weekend and I noticed it was open Sunday a.m. Since his friend had come straight from another sleepover I was not sure they'd be awake enough for that. But they are young and they powered through with their boundless energy. No one fell asleep on the long car ride.

For the sleepover birthday I was kind of stumped on food. We had pizza twice that week already and I couldn't take any more pizza. Plus the in-laws had taken us out and it was a lot. I told dh that salmon wasn't really any more expensive and so I would just make a nice salmon dinner. (Dh doesn't eat salmon). I got hamburger as a backup. BM's friend is so sweet and nice anyway, but he kept telling me I was the best cook. The hamburger was a waste because he was more than happy with the salmon. (Well, my kids liked the double dinner because they are bottomless pits, so not a total waste. I just don't know I would have had the backup otherwise).

**On the grocery front I felt that our grocery bill was going to be insane with the kids home all month. But I guess maybe some of the eating out ended up offsetting that. I think we have $100+ left in grocery budget for the month and several meals dh shopped for but that I did not cook.

Surviving

July 17th, 2015 at 05:51 am

**Today dh will be 90% done with radiation treatment. Phew!

The medical stuff alone has been fine, but it's just so much else going on.

We also squeezed out the kids' birthday parties last week. It was a crazy week and I did not agree on rushing it (BM could have certainly waited until after dh was done with treatments). But, that is what dh wanted to do and it's done.

As is, last week was pretty crazy. This week has been a little more calm and dh seems to be feeling better accordingly. I wish he could relax in a calm oasis, but it doesn't seem meant to be.

**Among other things, I was also shopping middle schools last week. We've had a million meetings, so it feels like, with the school. But it came to a head last week when dh had a short phone meeting where they were just, "No we won't do that". No explanation, and just the polar opposite of the spirit of the school and why we choose to keep BM there for middle school. There is another middle school (that just opened) that looks like a better fit on paper, but also lots of unknowns. Instead of looking forward to a unified campus and schedule the next two years for the kids this would mean the polar opposite. It gives me a headache just thinking about it. But if it is the better school for BM...

Dh has since had an hour phone conversation with the executive director (current school) who is our friend and neighbor. At least with him there is reason and compromise. So as of today I think we are probably going to stay. Thank goodness. This is still the last thing dh needs right now and is so frustrating. We tried to resolve things the last week of school. As thankful as we are to administrator friend there is no reason he couldn't have replied to our e-mails a full month ago, and it felt like he never read e-mails. Of course, he is probably expecting the principal to do her job, which she is not doing at all. Just so frustrating!

It does look likely we will end up in a compromise and this probably means red tape hell. BM will likely take a class at the community college this year. IT's red tape hell if you are in high school so you can imagine if you are in middle school. I'm at the point where I'd probably throw my hands up and give up. We have math people in the family who can tutor him and he can take a college class for credit next summer. It really seems the easiest route. I guess that is what I would do. (He could take a youth summer program at local State college but it just was like our last choice because it would be so rushed. But the plus is that it gives him high school credit for his transcripts AND would be a class with peers). If we have to rely on family help for one year out of twelve then we will have made out extraordinarily well. (BM is an extreme outlier academically. His school has always catered to his needs and kept him challenged. I think in almost any other situation he would have had to have been homeschooled. I know we have been very lucky and if this is the worst of it... Timing just sucks!).

But anyway, if I had to sum up the theme of 2015 it would be "Red Tape Hell". It's just been something at every turn this year.

**I can't talk about all that without talking about dh's job situation. Since we live in a culture obsessed with "paid work". (I have no idea. I think humans have much value beyond their paid work). But whatever, it's where our culture is at. We had been talking about next year being a time to actually consider going back to college or looking for work. My dh has often worked nights and he will be able to sleep in next year; I can take both kids to school. Maybe he has any chance in hell of getting a night job? (Day jobs don't exist, for the most part. Too much unemployment here). The thought of investing a little money in college isn't quite so horrifying with more time and money. (If waiting out the economy we'd probably still wait, but you know, it just doesn't feel quite as futile and useless as it did a few years ago). So anyway, that is where we were at. But life has 100% been a full-time job this year for dh, we are now taking a step backwards on the medical front, AND our parents want to give us all kinds of money. The last part just erases any minimal financial motivation we might have had on this front.

As of this very moment in time, the very last thing my spouse needs is a job. That is where we are at.

I don't know why this bothers other people so much. But since I am on track to retire by 50, I am not losing any sleep over it. *shrugs* It's something other people have problems with. We are perfectly content.

**I guess that plays into a financial update. Our net worth is up $42k this year and so we have achieved our net worth goal.

Payday was this week and I was able to put most of paycheck into savings. Nice to have a little boost in such a spendy year. I still have to buy Hawaii airfare and will have some medical bills next month. (I think I can maybe charge most of that up in August and pay off in September, but means I probably won't increase savings much the next two months).

We have enough assets to pay off our mortgage and keep $100,000 on hand. How awesome is that?? We had enough assets to pay off the mortgage in 2013 and I just wanted to get "well on the other side of that goal". Since then we have paid down the mortgage about $20,000 and increased investments by $80,000. I think we are well on the other side now? Big Grin

I know there will be some crossover point where we just pay off the mortgage. I think we are a LONG ways from that crossover point, but we are getting there. (Assets are earmarked for college and retirement and all that jazz). We might not get there until kids are done with college. I don't see the point in being mortgage free and borrowing for college. So don't want to be too aggressive on the payoff. Life goal is that the mortgage is our only debt ever and when we are done we will be DONE. As I have kids nearing college and driving age we are playing it safe and bulking up savings and investments instead. Hoping to eventually redirect a lot of that to mortgage payoff. Of course, if the stock market keeps on a bull run for another 5 years or so... We can revisit this conversation. But I expect for it to adjust at some point in time and don't expect every year to be this good.

Tons of work to do so will try to update more later. But I guess this is kind of a big picture post of where my head is at these days.

June Savings

July 2nd, 2015 at 06:49 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $1 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes:
--$200 (no piano lessons July)
--$300 sale of piccolo
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)

In the end, I added all the snowflakes to savings. Savings got drained a bit for the car purchase and mortgage pre-payments. So I felt all the windfalls were better used to bulk up savings a wee bit.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

But... Took out $2,600 for summer school, medical bills, and wildlife vacation. OF course, after that drained savings further for car purchase/mortgage paydown.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$60 Medical
-$385 Auto maintenance/repairs

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Current cash position:

Still have about 8 months of expenses in the bank, so am happy with that. Plus a 9th month in taxable investments.

Upcoming known expenses:

--Medical, medical, medical

--Still have not paid anything for Hawaii yet

More Car Stuff & LOTS of Driving

July 2nd, 2015 at 06:03 am

Whatever the opposite of "buyer's remorse" is, that is what I have!

So you go buy a car on a HOT day, and no one tells you the car comes with solar glass? What the wha?? I have died and gone to heaven. I see mixed reviews online, but when you upgrade a 14-year-old car you notice differences like this. IT was 108F degrees the other day and the black steering wheel was not even hot to the touch. I don't even believe it was really that hot... It just doesn't compute.

Financials:

**Insurance on new vehicle will cost us an extra $400 per year. Mostly for adding comprehensive and collision. But we will drop the full coverage on our 10-year-old van. (I'd historically drop it sooner, but it seemed easier to at least have full coverage on one car. I've been ruminating on it for a while but I guess I don't have to any more).

The net increase in cost will be about $240 per year.

**I checked with the DMV today and expect our annual fees to go up by $100 per year. It's worse early on and will drop over time.

Of course, we won't have to get smog checks for a long time ($$$) and I expect to have reduced repairs expenses in the short run. In the grand scheme of things, probably pretty breakeven. Not much change to our annual expenses.

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Since we primarily drive the gas sipper, we just determine who drives it by who has the longest to drive any given day. I don't expect much to change. I got a couple of days in this month. (It will take me a long time to get used to it). But, that was it for me. Dh gets it hands down the rest of the month.

First and foremost, our medical people are working all this week on calibrating stuff for his radiation. They needed 5 full business days to get everything ready. I wouldn't be surprised if radiation is more expensive than surgery. Since his brain surgery was $500k-ish, I am expecting some interesting insurance statements. But yeah, the technology of it all is kind of blowing my mind.

So this week is calibrating. Then dh goes in for a procedure every day for 10 days. It's a lot. We are blessed that we can do this locally. Is still a 50 mile roundtrip commute. So he will have a bit of a medical commute for a while. The other plus is he can probably just take himself. (If he has any issues, my employer is extremely supportive).

So there is that, and I will share more on all that later. (Well, maybe, if I have any time).

The kids are also both signed up for summer classes. Which maybe we would have rethought if we knew all this was coming. LOTS of driving. They are both taking classes consecutively in entirely different places.

I usually pride myself on simplicity and a leisurely lifestyle most of the year. But work is totally crazy right now and I am not quite sure how I will survive July. Dh is mostly expected to be fine, but tiredness is a common side effect. So I am mentally preparing to take over the domestic duties (most of which he does) and maybe I will have to get the kids out of his hair as much as possible. Whatever it takes to get him in a positive restful mind space so he can kick this thing to the curb once and for all.

I just don't know why when it rains it pours!