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Archive for July, 2016

Nicknames

July 31st, 2016 at 08:25 am

My kids are still "big" and "little" but it's probably just a matter of time before they are both the same size! Or... If the younger one ends up a little shorter (likely) I don't want to call him the little one his entire life. HA!

So I am trying to think of some new nicknames for this blog.

{Plus, I've never really liked the "BM" initials, you know - "bowel movement" - but just never cared quite enough to think up something else}.

I can do OM & YM for older and younger.

When I started this blog I had a small baby and a toddler. So... I guess their personalities have since emerged and evolved.

Science Monkey & Drama Monkey?

Monkey Monkey & Drama Monkey? (I swear if my older child could swing through the trees, he would. Big Grin ).

M11 & M13 to designate their age? I think that is probably the most clear for purposes of this blog. Then you don't have to remember my nicknames and you have some frame of reference as to what I am talking about.

Any other ideas?

Maybe I need a nickname for dh too. I just think "dh" is very clear and I don't really like "monkey papa" for whatever reason. Monkey Man?

Summer Doings

July 30th, 2016 at 07:31 am

**Finished with the birthdays. BM insisted on making his own cake from scratch. Spent $44 on pizzas. Just had a party at our house.

I did take BM clothes shopping. He's a beanpole so we made do with the Boys section. I expect it will be the last time. Since LM has graduated out of school uniforms and this is BM's last year, I won't be buying ahead sizes on clearance any more. I also expect their clothing choices to diverge as they surpass uniforms and find their own styles.

I am pleased with how we made out though it wasn't planned. He picked out some $5 shorts. The school shorts were reasonable and so I bought 4 pair. I just told him I'd buy a 5th pair when I know they fit well and are comfortable. Will see if 5 sets of uniform clothing will get him through the year.

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I suppose that it's nice that I am not hosting a birthday party at my house or driving 4 hours round trip this weekend. But I think I over-scheduled since we haven't had time for anything else but birthdays lately.

I told the kids we could go to the "Wipeout" pool this weekend (has inflatable obstacle courses). It's a bit of a drive and will take up a chunk of the day.

I recall pictures weren't working when we found this place last summer. Here are the obstacle courses:


Next weekend LM has his drama camp showcase and everyone wants to come up to our house for that. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

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Today we plan to get BM's new checking account set up. I expect it to make my life a little easier. I am hoping to set up electronic "direct deposits" for his allowance (which is still a whole whopping $2 per week because the kid just doesn't spend any money). He will also be able to do phone deposits. So I am hoping to be less of a middle man for his finances.

Yesterday I sorted out all the kids' birthday money and we went to the CU to withdraw their 7% interest. (Those accounts are maxed out so they aren't earning anything on the interest). I thought maybe we'd withdraw once or twice per year. But as someone who has always done 99%+ of her banking remotely, yeah, I have not bothered to go more than once per year. I admit that we were right there anyway and there was no line. It's just relative.

I sorted all of LM's money stuff with him. He's got a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $28 of interest from other CU. $19 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money. Plus $17 piggy bank money to deposit ($11 of which was birthday money from my sister). I'll deposit the check for him while I am at the other CU tomorrow. The rest, I took the cash and will do an equivalent transfer to his savings account.

LM is up to $600 cash!

BM has a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $35 of interest from other CU. $30 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money (because he spent $0 of it). $26 from his piggy bank.

BM is up to $900 cash!

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Last month was spendy and it was hard to justify spending any money the last week or so. I am relieved our credit cards have all closed for the month and we are on a "new month".

Yesterday dh and BM went to the movies. Dh had a free ticket and so just had to pay for BM.

My plan was to take LM to his favorite sandwich shop since I had a free sandwich coupon (in exchange for giving blood). I thought we'd do our own thing while they were at the movies, but dh moved in on our dinner. I agreed because it was right by the CU and would save me a trip to the CU on Saturday since I wanted to take both kids with me. We banked while dh ordered for us. He had a free sandwich reward thing and so we only had to pay for 2 sandwiches.

(To be clear, the kids have the 7% accounts at some other CU that we are not members of. So we are going to the other CU to set up the checking account. They both seemed to offer fairly equal terms for youth checking accounts, but my CU is walking distance from our house and I can do electronic transfers to/from kids accounts since we are all members of that CU. It wins on convenience).

We went to Togo's and their meatball sauce was kind of weird last time I had a meatball sub. Fearing the worst I haven't re-ordered for a while but I thought I would redeem my free sub sooner and meatballs was sounding really good after giving blood. So I got that in my craw. Sad to say that after 30-ish years, if not more, they changed their meatball recipe. Do NOT LIKE!! Frown I'd probably be more devastated but LM has got me on another sandwich. Oh, and I am kind of addicted to their chicken salads also. The dressing is so good, and maybe that will get me through this. That meatball sauce was just *so good* before. Maybe I can find a recipe that is close.

July Savings

July 30th, 2016 at 06:24 am

Received $39 bank interest for the month of June.

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash

Nothing was pulled out of Savings in July.

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July was kind of a crazy spendy month, but that will be funded with August income. We spent $1,500 on auto insurance, auto maintenance, auto repairs, birthdays (3), and our trip to San Francisco. I will deduct all this from short-term savings next month.

I decided to apply snowflakes to bills this month. That was my instinct last month but I stuck to the investments. This month am going to take a break since the budget needs a breather.

Snowflakes to Bills:

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

Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $12 cash back on Visa/dining card.

--$20 Savings from Target Red Card

I also received a random $50 settlement claim check.

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I did round up the mortgage payment by $9 since that got us down to the next $xxx,999. I could care less about round numbers and would rather see a lower number in the thousandth place!

I just tend to round up when I make a large extra payment (one or twice per year). I guess I felt I should snowflake something this month.

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In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

P.S. Also labeled in the *one income* category since dh had no income during June or July. His income is more in the "snowflake" range anyway. (If he had a larger income I don't know that I'd differentiate on or off months, but definitely feeling the difference without the extra breathing room).

Two Birthdays Down

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:47 am

Knocked out Birthday #2 last weekend. MIL and her twin sister. We spent $165 for half the restaurant and cake bill. I've probably been to this restaurant before but I don't recall. They had excellent food at reasonable prices. The service was great and we got a lot of value for our money.

MIL's twin lives abroad, so it was pretty random that she just happened to be here for her 70th birthday. It worked out nicely.

BM's party got bumped until this weekend. It was nice to have a break in between hosting parties at our house. Though I am definitely going to be ready for a very quiet weekend (or 2 or 5) after that!

Financially, we pretty much spent nothing on LM's birthday, so I am not sweating MIL's party. We have a little extra in our short-term savings.

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Er, we *had* a little extra in our short-term savings...

We went to San Francisco mid-week. Ended up spending almost $300. Yeesh! It may have been the first time that all four of us went together. I think just one of those things we never do because it's in or backyard, so we wanted to cross that off the list. We hit the science museum, the historic penny arcade (the kids were at a good age to really enjoy it), and the sourdough shop.

That's pretty much all we have planned for summer. After the next birthday party, LM has camp for two weeks and then school starts back up. I had wanted to go to Monterey on a weekday but our schedules don't seem to be meshing. Financially I am thinking better to delay that trip anyway, though we may still do this year.

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So... I have a teenager!

We will have to sort out the kids' birthday money at some point. We do plan to get BM a checking account and a debit card.

I think both dh and I are just kind of losing sight of time. I only even thought of this due to a recent SA discussion. I am sure I had my first checking account at 13, but just hadn't gotten there with my brain, in regards to my son. When I mentioned to dh he acted like I was crazy. I told him surely he had a checking account by the time he had steady work at 14. (If not, he should have). Once it sunk in that he is *13*, he realized it's not that crazy after all.

It just doesn't seem to be registering yet.

We also did official height measurements. Most years BM has grown 2-3 inches, but this past year was a full 5 inches!

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Dh's Florida grandfather (89) is in the hospital. Details are vague. His wife doesn't want to say much and neither do dh's parents. So there's two layers of holding back information. Heck, I asked dh yesterday if he was still in the hospital and he said he didn't know.

It's likely that dh will make a trip out there. Particularly if we get any word that things look bad. But even if he gets better, he may be feeling that time is short.

More Credit Card Rewards

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:46 am

It might be another $2,500 year after all.

I got an AmEx offer for a $250 reward and then the next day dh got an offer for a $500 reward. His offer was an American Express Gold, which is generally a business card offer or has a very high fee. Is the first time I've seen it with the annual fee waived.

$250 credit card reward

July 20th, 2016 at 06:51 am

I got an offer (targeted offer) for an American Express card with a $250 reward.

Woohoo!

I should also be eligible for a $500 Citi reward in a couple of more months.

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I saw today that the wildlife encounter that we did is completely booked through 2017. I am surprised it took that long to get that booked up, but it was just a matter of time. I am so glad we squeezed it in last year.

One Birthday Down...

July 11th, 2016 at 12:41 pm

One birthday down. Two to go.

It's funny because I felt like we relaxed and splurged but in the end we spent less than usual on birthday. I think we got off easy because LM's birthday was on a Saturday and so we killed two birds with one stone. Usually we take the kids out for dinner on their birthday and then do a party on a different day. But LM has a favorite sandwich place so that is just what we did for his party. Also, though we invited several kids, only 2 were able to make it. Probably typical for a summer birthday.

I've been waiting to see how many people plan to come to BM's party before we decide what to do, but I think it will probably be similar. A couple of hours of video game time, food and cake, and then a couple of hours at the pool.

We spent $38 on lunch, which included food for BM, dh and I. So really maybe only $20-ish of that was for the party. I did "splurge" on an ice cream cake. It was labeled $26? at the grocery store and even more expensive at Baskin Robbins. But the grocery store was full price $17.99, on sale, plus a birthday coupon, so only paid $13. That was a nice surprise. (If I realized maybe I'd buy more often. In the past I have always made our own cakes; we have an ice cream cake recipe).

{So... About $33 for dinner and cake?}

We bought LM a ridiculously expensive gift a few months ago. It was an Amazon Echo, on sale. Dh had bought one for his mom for Christmas. I think just making her a guinea pig. I thought it just sounded stupid. But the kids LOVE it (& so does MIL). Is basically a smart phone in the form of a speaker. So you can ask it all sorts of questions and have it play music. & it will play some games, like Simon Says or Trivia.

I had been thinking of taking BM indoor skydiving (where you just float over a giant fan) and MIL wanted to take that gift. I was more than happy to let her take the pricey gift in exchange for not buying crap (I hope). So we told the kids the Echo was kind of more for LM and the other was more for BM, but these are all shared gifts.

Yesterday dh's parents, aunt and Grandma came over to celebrate the kids' birthdays and to take them to the indoor skydiving place. GREAT birthday gift! I never expected LM to want to go, but he did and that is why that ended up being a shared gift. I don't know who had more fun... The kids? Or the old people? So I think that really ended up being appropriate that it was a gift from the old people. (They just had the most fun. I am sure dh and I enjoyed it on some level, but didn't seem to be eating it up quite as much as everyone else).

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In other news, I did give blood this week. I haven't been a consistent donate-r, but I guess they were having a blood shortage, locally. I will try to get back on a regular schedule.

Birthdays & Knitting

July 3rd, 2016 at 06:19 am

This month is the month of birthday. We will be hosting three birthday parties this month (the third party is for MIL's 70th).

Yeah, I had forgotten about MIL's birthday, but we are going in with SIL and she seems to be in super cheap mode.

We are just winging it when it comes to our kids. Very "go with the flow". We sent out invites for LM's party next weekend but are keeping it pretty loose. Will see who can make it and make decisions from there. Was thinking of splurging on an ice cream cake but I can just pick that up during the party. We don't do party favors - I hate all that junk and clutter. So yeah, I am really not planning to do much to prepare.

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With dh working, I am not feeling like we need to pinch pennies quite as much as last year (with all the big splurges).

We are planning a mid-week trip to San Francisco in July. We were going to do a weekday trip to Monterey in August but I am not sure if we can get that to work out. Maybe that would be something to do in October. The kids don't have the same break but I think they at least had one weekday off together in October.

In addition, dh and I have a couple of weekends away planned. That is more motivated by MIL having tons of timeshare points to use up. Is not anything we plan to spend money on. These trips will be later - our anniversary and my 40th birthday.

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So... Everyone in my house has been jumping into some new skills and classes.

I went a little back and forth on this. I was feeling inspired. But I also do feel like I have plenty on my plate as is. In the end I am glad I decided to take on a new skill myself. I took all that inspiration to finally learn how to knit. I am glad I just bit the bullet because it is really something that can be done during otherwise down time. In the end I don't feel like this has taken away from anything else.

Though I am sure you can mostly learn this skill online for free, I ended up picking up a book with 50 squares to knit. IT didn't even have any reviews and I picked it up on a gut feel. But I am LOVING it. Have mostly been told that knitting a blanket or something like that would be too tedious at this point and to keep it small. So this has been kind of perfect to practice and to build up skills.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely learned online from Youtube. Since I got my needles and yarn first (Michael's) I kind of started with that. Then I have to look up all the stitches online because yeah, it's hard to learn from a book. But between the two, I am happy with this method of learning.

Honestly, I feel kind of silly for not doing this sooner. One of those things I had been putting off for a very long time.

Edited to add: Saw some tote bags to knit, which seems the easiest/most practical so far. Making a note to self since I'm not quite ready for that yet.

June Savings

July 2nd, 2016 at 05:29 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of June.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $182 cash back on Citi card. (Lots of travel expenses this month)

Redeemed $20 cash back on Visa/dining card. (More travel expenses)

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$6 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$2,000 Airfare (Entire vacation budget)
- 725 Dentist (3)
- 20 Vet (shots)

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More spending than saving this month. Pulled the following amounts from long-term savings:

-$1,300 MRI
-$2,700 8th Grade Trip
-$3,000 Family DC Trip

It probably won't get much better. In July we will work on some big home improvements.

I suppose for this month it should be called "June Spending".