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Archive for December, 2018

Moving On

December 9th, 2018 at 10:53 am

I did my "life is still chaos" post, and am now hoping to just move forward.

I don't know if I will accomplish anything today, but honestly I'd just be happy to get a nap. I may just crash all day.

My birthday was last weekend. I spent about 5 hours doing my last class for this year. It is what it is. That was the day of the class, and it felt awesome to be DONE! I sent off my professional license renewal and got that huge time suck out of my hair.

Going forward, will have to maintain my professional license on my own time and expense, but now that I know ahead of time I can at least plan for that. I should probably be doing one class every 3 months or so. No more cramming. Phew!

Back to my birthday... Just stayed home and kept it low key otherwise. I did make sure to relax and enjoy the rest of my day.

Yesterday was absolutely exhausting. I had a Kohls return I wanted to sneak in as early in the month as possible. Went around 8am and thankfully there was no line yet.

I thought I was going to have to do that earlier, then take MM(15) to the animal shelter. But MH has more brain cells left than I have at the moment, and figured out he could drop off MM and I could pick him up. Doh. I really thought I Was going to have to sit there waiting for him 2 hours. Too exhausted to figure out the logic.

Anyway, I picked him up, grabbed some fast food (because that's what we do any more) and took him over to my old/forever employer to work. He worked about 4 hours and he is DONE for the year. Woohoo! I was exhausted yesterday, but it's all good. In discussing his availability and "awesome admin" availability, it was decided he is not needed for the rest of the year. Which is the only reason I would step foot in that office. So I will probably work a pretty long Saturday next weekend (from home) but then I am out and done for the year. December is a MASSIVE deadline month and no idea how they will get all their work done, but it's not my problem. I've been setting pretty clear boundaries re: the last 10 days of the year or so. The only reason I set foot in that office is if I am taking my son there to work.

Wish I could say I'd be getting any time off, but I am just in a new "crazy busy" end of year work situation. As I am guessing the majority of jobs in my field are. My new job is very 9-5 and will be a HUGE break compared to what I am used to Christmas break. Because I won't be cramming all weekend and during the evenings. I do look forward to that. But it's going to be crazy demanding during work hours.

After that I rushed home to ready for my new work's Holiday party. Which I was absolutely dreading. For one, I am an extreme introvert so it mostly sounded like torture. Secondarily, I was just exhausted and wanted to take a nap.

In the end, the party was GREAT!

I don't even know what in the heck, but the house was amazing and had an incredible view. This was at one of the owner's homes. He is not one of the "super wealthy" owners, but he does well enough and is a home builder and so of course built a custom home.

They had hired caterers and the food was absolutely divine.

We had a great time, in the end. Everyone I work with is *so nice*. No idea how on earth I found these people. I would never expect to have so much fun at a party with a big crowd of people that I barley know. (Many of them don't work in the office and I have only met in passing).

In other news, I found out I have two weeks vacation time to use whenever. Woohoo! I will have to ponder. I don't have a lot of time off with this job, so it's deciding if I am just, "OMG I need a week off now." Which probably wouldn't be too feasible until March, given workload. So I don't know if it's that, or I am willing to wait for kids' spring break in April and to plan around them. We've already discussed going to the beach for a few days, but figured that would just have to be a long weekend. I will have to look at calendars and ponder.

I Give Up!

December 9th, 2018 at 09:19 am

We got to enjoy our new washer/dryer for about 5 seconds, before MH tried to start his car and move it back into the garage. At least he was able to move it out of the way for delivery. *sigh* I was pretty sure a nice/convenient Sunday delivery would NEVER happen (because this year has been non-stop insanity). So I am happy that at least we could accomplish that transaction smoothly. (Apparently, just barely).

Anyway, car wouldn't start. Was kind of "meh" about it. I mean, I laughed. I swear I have spent every single week this entire year putting out fires (or dealing with fires that we can't put out). So all I could do was laugh. That we had barely put out the last fire when we had a new one! But it was Sunday night and obviously something *easy* like a dead battery, right?

WRONG.

Was the first time we had car troubles with new job/long commute. So Monday was total and complete chaos. It didn't help that AAA driver did a decent diagnosis on the car and told us it might need to be in the shop for days (to re-create the problem). UGH! In the end, is something with the fuel line probably (our mechanic agreed with the AAA diagnosis) but they cleaned something up for a few bucks and think it might be fixed. It's just the inconvenience factor that was so awful. & I suppose we are not 100% sure it is fix fixed, or if it has a bigger problem.

Got the car back and then someone ran into MH at a red light. Because... of course. It was as minor as can be, but... of course!

I completely give up on the house. I just had to, or I would FREAK! Every single time I plan to tend to household chores, something or other comes up. When you have *11 months* of this, your house looks like a total disaster. I really thought I was starting to get on top of things, and then... I don't know what happened. It seemed to take a pretty bad turn with the laundry/car issues. If I think about it at all I will freak. So I just give up.

I think at this point it's just "life is chaos". "Completely and utterly outside my realm of control" chaos. MH is really getting grumpy about job #2 situation. I told him literally I didn't have time to do ANY work for job#2 last month. !!! That is not the problem! But it will be stressful next month (deadline month). So I keep infinitely kicking the can down the road as to when I expect any rest or free time.

I just think he perceives, and is probably perceived in this blog, that I am killing myself over working so many hours. When the reality is, I can't even find time for that even. I just spend all my time to reacting to chaos. I've probably only had time to blog like 10% of the chaos. There is no way to get it across. I don't even remember all the chaos. This was a conversation we had recently: MH tells DL that my dad had been in the hospital, when DL got back from his Finland trip. I said, "Oh yeah, I forgot." Because seriously, I had 100 more important things to worry about. He was fine, so I had no more room in my brain for that. There is no world where I am just, "Oh yeah, I forgot about my dad being in the hospital 3 days ago". Or that is what I would have thought, but that is my world right now.

There's been some good things and I just wanted to do a separate happy post.

November Fuel Costs - Electric Car - Charger is Paid For!

December 9th, 2018 at 07:35 am

Total miles driven last month on new electric/hybrid car: 1,769

A small improvement; was 2,000 miles last month.

Out of town trips:
--MH drove about 100 miles (on gas) to do some political canvassing before the election
--Bay Area for Thanksgiving (200 miles on gas)
--Bay Area for a book signing (100 miles on gas)

Probably a pretty average month for us.

I remembered to track miles on our gas vehicle this past month; we drove about 550 miles. That was pretty typical for how much I was driving the minivan. Same kind of situation where we favored the gas sipper when we had a gas guzzler, but I feel like we are favoring the electric vehicle even more. If we were driving 4 miles round trip to get groceries before, meh. Who cares if you took the van or the car? But, now all the short trips we do on electric if at all possible.

This comes up to an average of about 28,000 miles per year, total household driving. I'd say we were putting 20,000-ish miles per year on our cars, but have added 5,000 miles per year in commute miles. So I think that sounds about right. The 20,000 was "ish". We don't always do so much out of town driving.

For context, this was from my post last month:

We drove the car 2,000 miles total. UGH! I don't have a handle on total household driving because I didn't track miles on the other car. For November 1, I made sure to take a picture of both odometers. We generally average about 20,000 miles per year total. How we divvy it up between the cars just depends. But this was before I doubled my commute. For the long run, I expect to work from home one day per week, to lessen the wear and tear on our cars. October was clearly unusual with *a lot* of out-of-town driving. But there was also an element that we barely drove the other car.

Back to November...

Electricity costs: $34.23

1,302 Electric Miles Driven

418 kWh Used x $0.0819/kWh = $34.23

{418 kWh overnight electricity usage, per electric bill. This is the easiest/best approximation of how much electricity we are using to charge the car}.

Fuel Savings: $207

1,302 Miles/ 20mpg old minivan
=65 gallons of fuel

65 gallons x $3.18 = $207

$207 cost of commute in old minivan
-$34 cost of commute in new electric car
-----
=$173 FUEL SAVINGS

For now, I am focused on tracking the fuel savings to offset the cost of the fast charger we installed in our garage. Once that is paid for, I would like to offset the premium we paid for the car.



I am just going to call it. The charger has paid for itself. Woohoo! We apparently received a $400-ish break on our DMV registration, with the car. I thought it was a mistake and had been waiting for the bill. But for now, will just call it a day and will consider the charger paid for.

Prelim Credit Card Tally 2018

December 8th, 2018 at 05:53 am

I don't have December monthly reward totals yet, of course. But I figured I would update all my numbers and see where we are at. This will make it easy to update/finalize at the end of this month.

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
-----------
$561 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Other Rewards:
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

Ongoing rewards (through 11/30):

+$276 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$84 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$141 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)

+$705 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,927

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much. (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2017/2018).

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906
Year 2017 = $3,578
Year 2018 = $1,927

Total 7 Years = $22,693
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. I have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade or so.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***

Credit Card Rewards Update

December 7th, 2018 at 07:42 pm

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)
-----------
$721 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.

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

I submitted a "price rewind" (price match) for a Black Friday deal. The cell phone MH had bought was $150 off for Black Friday. So I got a $150 credit for that. Woohoo!

I submitted the washer/dryer purchase, because you never know. Generally Citi tracks the price match, but when we saw the $150-off for the phone we just wanted to be sure it was counted. Washer/Dryer were Black Friday deals. So far Citi is showing I am owed a refund of $8, for those purchases. They track for two months. For smaller amounts like that, they will just send me the money when the two months are up.

I haven't had any energy/time to chase rewards this year. It will be interesting to see how it comes out in the final tally.

I think I can beat 2016, so it wasn't even our lowest year. I probably have around $100/month in rewards, or another $1,200-ish to add to my 2018 tally.

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906

This & That

December 2nd, 2018 at 08:14 am

Well, I am still completely and utterly exhausted.

Last week was actually amazingly quiet and nice. Until Sunday afternoon when our washer broke. In the middle of a wash. *sigh* So peace and quiet turned into "lugging sopping wet clothes to the laundromat and appliance shopping".

I suppose I should back up. Both our washer/dryer are long past their prime. We've been too cheap/lazy to deal with it. But there is no way in heck we are spending one penny on fixing the washer. Will replace both. We did attempt to fix (because would have been nice to finish our laundry load) but gave up. That just added to the time/frustration factor.

In almost any other situation, we would have had it repaired.

On the plus side, most the Black Friday deals lasted through Thursday of last week. I was so relieved to have some time to deal with that. We also supposedly have a weekend delivery, which I am very appreciative of, but not holding my breath about that. (That presumes everything goes well. HA!) But if they can actually pull it off, that is pretty awesome.

Other Randomness:

**My plan is to get my education done and my professional license renewed today. Phew!

I haven't done any work (for old/forever employer) whatsoever. I just didn't have any time this week. I had a sick kid, work was crazy, etc.

I guess my new goal for December is to work enough (extra/OT) to pay for new washer/dryer. That's just 9 hours per week, times 3. I still have lots of financial motivation on this front. Plus starting to feel some pressure re: work promised versus work done (zilch).

Honestly, this is all work I LOVE doing and can't believe I am paid to do. I would be more than happy to sit home and work. It's just finding the time/balance when life is totally crazy.

I am clearly not going to find any balance in my life during 2018. I give up! But I am still optimistic that next month will be better. I am making very slow progress...

**We've got a full plate of concerts and shows planned for next year. My hope would be to have this all pre-funded and then just not worry about spending any cash on this during the next year.

It's just everything we are most interested in has gone on sale this past week or so.

**Other Black Friday Spending

I forgot to mention that I picked up tax software for $18 on Black Friday.

My initial thought was that I would take advantage and use old/forever employer's software while I still had access. Would save me many hours. It takes me about 5 minutes to do my taxes on the professional software. BUT... "Useless employee" deleted my tax access in true "useless employee" fashion. She then realized her bad and sent me some new access code to my work e-mail that no longer exists. *sigh* I had planned to sort that out later. But when presented with $18 software that would do everything I need it to do (but in a very slow and painful fashion) I decided to just go with that. The solution for me may end up being more middle ground. But at the end of the day, I like the idea of moving on with my life. Probably best to let it go. Heck, don't know that I Want my personal information out there anyway. Not feeling lots of confidence in how things are being run, and lord knows who they sell the business to next. I think it's best on many fronts just to figure out a better long term tax prep plan for the future.

Oh, and the 15yo is definitely doing his own taxes. That is another perk of the cheapie software.

**New job is going really well.

This is what I posted recently:
I expect generous raises and bonuses with this employer and so expect the current state of things to be very temporary.

Re: taking a pay cut for a very 9-5 job, but expecting to gain some ground eventually.

Shortly after I posted that, I received confirmation that they are VERY generous with raises and bonuses. More than I expected.

I wasn't expecting much. They had done performance reviews for everyone and are expecting a pretty big ramp up of work in 2019. But I was hired in reaction to that and expected not to receive a raise with everyone else. I just happened to come across whatever bonuses/raises they were discussing. Yesterday my boss pulled me aside and told me they were doing bonuses mid-month. As the accountant, clearly I am in charge of executing all that, which is why I had access to the information to begin with. But since I had last come across it they had gotten around to discussing me and told me they weren't giving me a raise, as I expected, but they would plan to do a review/raise for me before next year is over. Just that I don't have to wait until the following January. Also, I am getting a $1,000 net bonus. Woohoo! (I presumed they would give me *something*. $1,000 was more than I was expecting, but I also think some of it is not wanting me to feel left out, especially since I am seeing everyone else's BIG bonuses).

It's very feasible I could get a 10% or 20% bonus next year, so I am very happy with the state of things. I need a $10,000 salary bump to track to where I was at with old/forever job, for 9-5 hours. If I can get a 6% raise and a 6% bonus, then I will be there. Both seem very feasible at this point. I'd say that my new job is 10 times easier and 10 times less responsibility, so I am very happy with things.

This $1,000 bonus even is HUGE to me. The only reason it would not be is the context of the pay cut. But I've never worked anywhere that did bonuses.

**Other than that, my finances feel like complete chaos in the moment.

Just paid the property taxes for the year, all our insurance comes due this month, just bought up a bunch of concerts tickets and a new washer/dryer, etc. But also having lots of money inflows. It just feels like money is flying every which way. I will have time later this month to feel more organized about it and to get a better handle of things. (I know we are spending less than our income, but it still feels very chaotic).

Old Employer Updates

December 2nd, 2018 at 06:49 am

I was doing a post and it was getting really long, so am separating out the "old work" part.

MM(15) did not get his paycheck timely from my old/forever employer. I think payday was a Friday and he went in Monday (Thanksgiving week) to work because he had the week off of school. His paycheck was not there, but I didn't think too much about it. The rumor (whatever they told MH?) was that they had run out of checks. I didn't think too much about that either.

The latest is that old/forever employer took back the business and told "fake employer" to go to hell, basically. I have *no idea* where they are in the legal process of that and infinite monies owed to them, but "fake employer" is not fighting them on giving them back the business. They never really did anything to begin with, so there isn't much to it. They had taken over payroll, and that's about it. They have officially given that back.

Anyway, I didn't think too much about checks having to be ordered with this sudden turn of events. & I mean, I just would totally understand if that slipped through the cracks in the chaos.

Then maybe Tuesday or Wednesday "awesome admin" (who has gone back full-time, temporarily, and is the only reason MM is working there) called me. {MM is there to help her out and to work for her. If she's gone, then he's gone}. Anyway, she called me with an earful. I guess in the end they still had checks (I should have realized because I had been paid already the first of the month) and "awesome admin" knew they had to order more, but old/forever employer disagreed. He is sick and has no idea. I guess it was just a whole thing. Plus they hired some new employees, so how is that for a first impression!? (Probably the least of their problems, as far as first impression. Ugh). Plus, okay, so you don't have checks, so figure it out. There is just no one there capable of "figuring it out." I mean, I am sure "Awesome admin" could figure it out, but she is the lowest person on the totem pole, and employer is probably embarrassed and just unwilling to deal with it.

Anyway, MM had the week off and they really needed the help. I know 100% they will pay him. I told him in no other situation would he ever show back up at work again, but that *I* would guarantee his paycheck. & Wednesday, when he still didn't have his check, I pulled him aside and told him, "And that's it. You don't need to go back until you get paid". You know, just willing to make an exception for the holiday week everyone wanted to take advantage of, but beyond that, whatevs. Figure out your crap!

Yeah, I don't know how long "awesome admin" is going to last, at this rate. What a MESS! I mean, this is just like 0.01% of the business, right? Having checks to pay bills? I don't even want to know what else is going on over there.

Before I quit, old/forever employer's wife pulled me aside with the "great news" they were "hoping to" take back the firm. I was pretty blunt with her. & how does that help me? Back to square one. They still have to sell. Let's just say it didn't appeal to me at all. I told her that I support my family and needed a better long-term plan.

Then... When everyone was going back to help (because old/forever employer was AMAZING, and we are all willing to help in any reasonable way), MH was concerned about it. He just sees everyone is going back and is worried I will to. HA! I told him I couldn't imagine anything less appealing.

So, fast forwarding to last week when my teenager wasn't paid for like 8 days and "awesome admin" is telling me what a nightmare it is over there. I said to MH, "Yeah, because no one could see that coming." Things may be worse without "fake employer", which is hard to imagine in some regards, but not surprising given the situation. Old/forever employer has much better intentions, but you need more than good intentions.

**MM(15) did eventually get paid. Was just delayed a bit longer with the holiday weekend.

Thankfully, my experience was the polar opposite. I did side work for about 4 clients, plus some very highly-paid work for old/forever employer. Everyone was so grateful for the help that they all paid me immediately. I think old/forever employer paid me before I even got around to invoicing them.

I am trying to wean off my old clients and get them transferred over to new accountants. I never did and still don't want the work. I was open to the opportunity when I had no idea what my work situation might be, but it will be *awesome* to get all this work out of my hair.

Work for old/forever employer (side work) is the "best of both worlds" at this point, and I am fine with that longer term. But I've said I am not holding my breath. If it all goes to hell tomorrow, I am totally fine with walking away. I feel pretty removed from the situation. They are desperate and have agreed to my crazy one-sided terms.

Electric Driving Updates

December 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

Last Saturday we were able to get some free charging. MH sat at the free charger while waiting for MM(15) at his volunteer shift. It covers one-way on the 21-mile drive.

We also went to the Symphony last weekend. We had planned to get "free charging" in the garage, but went a little early for dinner and there was free parking everywhere. We chose to save $4-ish and take the free parking instead. Our city (downtown area) has free parking night and weekends for the month of December? But I didn't expect it to be so completely abandoned on a Saturday night. Of course, maybe just lord knows where everyone parked, because the restaurant that we went to was jam packed.

In the middle of the month, winter started to arrive, and did a number on the car battery. I had been forewarned (belong to some online group) but ignored all the "Cold + car battery" stuff, figuring we don't have COLD here. Unfortunately below 50F degrees, you lose a lot of range. I don't know if there is much difference between that and like 0F degrees, because seems plenty of people are happy with their Volts in cold and snowy regions.

In the end, this happened around mid-month and I haven't noticed any changes to our costs, but December will be much colder and I will have a whole month of "cold weather" data to report. Most days I have been able to eke out my commute on the electricity. If I am using gas, it might be 1/10 of a gallon per day. (I think it got a little warmer, because I have not used gas all week).

This will be a morning problem. We have freezes overnight, but during the day it won't drop below 50F, generally. It probably helps to park in the sun and keep the battery on the warmer side. During summer, will do the opposite. I had always been more concerned about our hot summer weather. The heat is supposed to be worse as far as long-term battery degradation. Not much I can do about that, but will definitely be sure to park in the shade during summer.

The garage seems to be keeping the car about 30F degrees warmer than the outside, so maybe that helps with the cold and battery range.

In other news, GM is discontinuing the Volt as of next year. In the online group everyone was saying prices would drop at that point. I don't see why it would make such a big difference, but in the end, I guess this is driving people to not want to keep their cars. I don't *get* it, but whatever. We have talked seriously about buying a second Volt in about a year, before all this. Honestly, I don't expect prices to change much between now and then. But if they do, we will certainly take advantage.

{I think probably they mean more new prices, while I am only looking at used prices}.

It is sad. Americans love their gas guzzlers so much. I haven't seen any other cars quite like this. I was never thrilled with going all-in on electricity. Yes, it's cheap now, but you never know how that might change. I guess for the long run it might be we keep a gas car and an electric car? But I really like this whole "bets of both worlds" thing and haven't seen anything else quite like it.

I guess I should back up and say one reason we are considering buying the second Volt is we are going to run this one into the ground crazy fast, at this rate. Would rather spread over two cars that we can keep for 15 years each. (This car won't last 15 years if we do 90% of our driving on the one car). & MH has a new-ish car, so it would be more of a lateral(ish) trade. We just left it that we need to give it a year before we put all our eggs in one basket. Which is something we would probably never do otherwise, but the car is that amazing. & this also hinges on me getting like a really nice bonus next Christmas. I said it's lateral(ish) because we still would need to cough up some decent cash.

Costs and updates:

**I need to do some homework on the carpool stickers. Still have not had one reason to use them in the two + months we have had the car. I had heard a rumor if I renewed after this year that I could get 4-years of carpool stickers (for solo driver). I can't find anything about that and don't know if that is just a presumption. I don't want to lose out altogether. It would be three years if I apply now. I just have some homework to do. You never know when you might end up in a traffic jam or have a job change, etc., so I just want to maximize carpool benefits. Being prepared, as I like to do.

**The other thing I can't find *anywhere* is what on earth our car registration fees are supposed to be. ??? We paid something like $40 when we bought the car, and when they sent us the title it said "$40 paid" on the registration and/or title. I thought surely that wasn't right and expected to get a bill at some point.

I think it would be a fair assumption that the electric cars get a crazy break on this front, but I just can't find anything verifying this. On the online group I am in, everyone says they are still paying $300 or $400 or whatever to register and renew newer/expensive cars (same model; same state). So, I am confused. Am curious what the renewal will be next year.

**Fuel costs for December:

Electricity is still at about $1 per day, or $30 for the month.

We also drove out of town three times during December, so used a fair amount of gas.

Gas fuel spending was $26. I received a $10 work reimbursement (for driving 20 miles). This puts my net gas costs at $15 for the month, or about the same as last month.

When it got cold, my first thought was that my "reimbursements to self" for quick charger and car premium might take a little longer than I planned. But looking back at October, I think in the end it will be about the same. I saved about $225 in fuel costs?

When I get final electricity costs for November, I will share the details.

December and January are our coldest months, so will see how we fare during those months.