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Viewing the 'Just Thinking' Category

Back to Work

September 24th, 2018 at 05:53 am

Well, the last two weeks were a complete whirlwind.

I think I’ve got everything reset (paperwork/house/emails) to where it’s not crazy overwhelming. But could definitely use some more time to organize and to do a better reset. I really only put a few hours into that. Bare minimum. But I tend to be organized and on top of things. So though it felt very overwhelming to get behind, it wasn’t as bad as I envisioned.

Best I can tell, the only thing that slipped through the cracks all year was I forgot to pay auto insurance due 9/1. I usually pay when I get the bill, but sometimes delay for a credit card reward or something like that. I must have delayed and forgotten. Or just forgot? & I did also have a reminder in Quicken, but I was too busy and didn’t pay any attention to that. There was no consequence. I got a reminder after it was due and paid it without any late fees. They had a 2 or 3 week grace period.

I was confusing weeks. Thankfully, jury duty and kids appointments are *this* week. I was thinking *everything* was last week; that would have been way too crazy.

I am not really superstitious, but I can see why people believe in curses and jinks. I swear my life has been entirely sunshine and roses since my last day of work. To the point I didn’t even end up going by this past week. I did get my final paycheck mailed to me (two weeks late). I had planned an errand near the office Friday and thought I would also pick up my paycheck and see if “workaholic” needed help with anything (he does). But in the end my errand was far enough away I just couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t want to even go near that place. Was for the best. “Twin” later texted me that she was at the old office helping “workaholic” with stuff I usually did. I was so happy and relieved to hear that. Everyone always relies on me for everything, and it was nice to be off the hook.

"Twin" also told me some big wigs showed up this past week to discuss hiring people, etc. I am skeptical because I don’t see a single job posting. So I was briefly buoyed by the news, but not for too long before I decided it was total BS. I hope at the least they transfer “workaholic” to another office or something. I really and truly worry about him. More than anyone. My old employer’s life is total and complete hell at the moment, but they seem to be handling it better. They have a backup plan. It’s “workaholic” that is totally screwed by this situation. & don’t get me wrong, maybe he could downsize his home or decrease his lifestyle somewhat. This is clearly a hell of his own making.

My life was sunshine and roses, until Friday at 5pm. That is when MH learned he is being called to jury duty Monday. At my first day of new job. Of course! DL gets out of school at like 11am. I had an appointment in the afternoon but the library is closed (where MM would wait for me if I needed some time). So that’s my total Monday from hell. New employer seems super flexible and I did warn them about the jury duty and is some of why they agreed to let me start part-time this week. Phew! The rest of the week, I will be running around like crazy, but should not affect my part-time work schedule. If MH does get tied up with jury duty. Though he *wants* jury duty, generally, his employer is actually totally freaking out because a long-term employee just quit (last day Friday). So I do think MH will try to get out of it. Between the two of us *freaking out*. I’d be a little less panicky if we didn’t have to find out Friday night. More time to plan and prep for these things, I can better deal with. (In the end, DL is going to a friend's house after school so that I can work more than 2 hours on my first day. I do have to go in later than planned).

Our car charger (ordered from Costco) seems to be lost in space, so that’s on hold.

The car electric range adapts to your driving habits. It started charging faster and going up to a 57 mile range. (It’s rated 53 miles, and I was concerned it only went up to “50” on first charge. So imagine my surprise when it said “57” when I got into the car Saturday). I am hearing that 75 range is not uncommon. I am guessing that 57 is probably about as good as it gets for us, because we generally don’t drive in traffic.

I think we were able to keep our driving 100% electric since my drive to San Francisco mid-week. Today I will track the actual costs of my commute and start getting a feel for that. In addition, we will be getting free charges twice this week.

P.S. See last post for an Indian recipe.

New Car Fuel Updates

September 18th, 2018 at 09:29 am

This week is shaping up to be pretty quiet. I had a few social things I was trying to plan, but everyone is being super flakey. Working folk!

Today my plan is to nap in the morning and then will start hitting chores. I think just one or two days of that (chores) and I will start to feel a lot better. If I can feel like I am starting to move more forward than backwards...

Still figuring out new car and probably will make October 1 more of a starting point for really tracking costs.

Our electric company is in the process of shifting to different rates for peak times. We get to jump ahead to this new schedule with the electric car purchase (and will also get a discount for overnight electricity use). So of course I signed up the day we got the car.

In the end, we looked more carefully at the schedule. Winter prices are mostly going down. We will have to change our habits a little bit though and avoid 5pm - 8pm during the week. Off the top of my head, that maybe went up a cent or two (per Kwh) during winter.

Summer? Ugh. Electric rates more than doubled for 5pm-8pm. MH was just asking me if we were paying that now. Kind of told him, don't know, don't care. Have to power the car. It's just one more week until we can switch that to quick overnight charging? But he's kind of, "It's more than just the car. Laundry? Dishes?" Fair enough. So while he was asking me and I was looking something or other up on electric bill, I just decided to call. In the end, just more good luck on our part. We get to keep old/cheap summer rates through the end of this month. We switch to winter rates AND cheaper overnight rates starting when our bill closes, around October 1st.

Anyway, I put the new electricity schedule up on the fridge. Will have to be more mindful of peak times. I think that is easy enough for us to work around.

In the meantime, everything is just kind of chaos. We already drove new car 520 miles. Since Thursday 8pm. What in the heck!? We did drive 280-ish miles to/from the Bay Area. It was a 60 mile drive from the dealership. Everything else was more than usual. We probably both have mostly been driving new car. I did drive to my new work city and took MM to the animal shelter (both around 21 miles each way).

I'd say this week should be way more calm, but MH has stuff going on every night. Will see how that ends up.

Today I used 3 miles electric range to take MM to school. (It's 5 miles?) MH will be driving one round trip 6 miles, unless he gets off work early (probably) and has to go back to get kids later. He told me his free movie tonight is the movie theater in our neighborhood, so that may be another 6-ish miles. All electric for today.

Tomorrow we might be able to squeeze out all electric. We are going to the movies a little further away, but might be able to start with a full battery if we don't drain it more today.

Thursday is chaos. MH has a bit of a drive for paid medical study. I *just* got an e-mail from SF bff and I guess I never got back to her. Oops! Our plans are Thursday. She was waiting for me to reply. I will probably go visit her and then spend some time with my parents. Lots of driving. (Driving to the Bay Area twice in one week is not unusual at all for us, and where we hope to see some real fuel savings).

After Thursday, I think we might be able to keep it all electric? Through the weekend?

We have 60-ish miles of gas left in the car. I will try to remember to take note of mileage when we fill up. Dealership gave us a full tank of gas, to start.

How did weekend driving go?

Didn't get so much fuel efficiency on the long drive. MH was being such a backseat driver. Gah. It was the first time we had long enough to fully charge between trips. So we started with a full 53 mile electric range. I believe the car said 50 miles, and I wondered if we had been dumb to not see the full charge before we bought it. I kept it in electric mode during all the traffic we hit, and whenever we were on city streets. Not a lot of traffic or lights, but the range just kept going up more and more. I later read that 75 miles is pretty common/easy. I think in the end we ended up getting 57 miles, adding 7 miles for passing through a few bottlenecks on the freeway. (The braking generates more electricity).

I guess the car does easily get 50mpg (on gas) on the open freeway, but we had never particularly seen this advertised. They advertise the combined freeway/city rating of 43mpg. We did go over some hills. That was when MH was driving me nuts with his backseat driving.

I had it on gas mode on the hills (which was maybe a mistake) but it was *amazing*. It gets a little electric boost and that was actually pretty awesome. I usually drive pretty slow on the big hills, not wanting to gun the engine too much.

I think that trip ended up being closer to 42mpg on the fuel side. I think we can survive with that.



This display shows our trip stats. I finally looked up what MPGe was. Wasn't entirely sure. In the end, the way it works is that 33.7 Kwh is considered to be equivalent to one gallon of gas. So it figures the electric mpg and the fuel mpg, and combines it together (combined MPGe is on the left). This is by far *not* the most fuel efficient the car has been, but that's just how it worked out on our big trip. We did try to conserve all the electric charge for the traffic and city driving.

For reference, I believe our winter rates will be around $3 for 33.7 Kwh, or the equivalent of purchasing a gallon of gas. So the MPGe figures can be converted to fuel prices for a rough idea of what we are paying/saving. I am really going to track energy savings closely starting October 1 when it will be easier and more logical to track all of this.

Edited to add: I looked at winter (overnight) rate and it was cheaper than I remembered. $0.0819 per Kwh. That means it (will) cost us $1.12 to drive 53.2 miles, starting October 1 (winter rates). & again, we can improve on that electric mile range if we drive very efficiently and driving conditions are favorable to the electric engine. It will be interesting to see how my commute shakes out (real world MPGe). I am starting to think that we can quickly recoup the cost of installing a charger in our garage. If my "twice as long commute" only costs $1 per day. Maybe just 6 months to recoup the charger install in our garage?

Here is the beauty:

The Worm Has Turned (& Sold Van)

September 17th, 2018 at 09:47 pm

I don't know that I did much Monday, but I did get the van sold. Yay! (Thanks to a tip from SA! But I will get to that at the end of my post).

The weekend went really well. I feel like my luck did a complete 180 over the weekend (if not a little sooner).

The Beach Boys concert was a blast. My dad wanted to go (and probably no one else really wanted to) so MH sat it out. I told my dad if he drove, the ticket was his. Really neat venue called the Mountain Winery. Thankfully, the kids enjoyed it. In fact, they were upset we left early. As is, we got home at 1:00 am. I decided it was prudent to beat the crowd on the way out.





My sorta-niece is getting married! I am excited about that. (More happy news!)

I won a $25 Ting credit today. Woohoo!

On Sunday we met up with MH's parents for lunch and then my parents for dinner. In the end, we just winged it at my parent's house. They had some hamburger and we said we would go to the corner store to get hamburger buns. No luck, so we went to Safeway aka the grocery store from hell. As we waited in some crazy insane line to checkout, I told MH, "I would say that I don't miss the Bay Area at all..." It would be easy to presume that this was the result of crazy dense population. But, the truth is our Safeway is the same way. I have no idea why anyone shops there. We stopped shopping there several years ago because it got to be too expensive. We sometimes, once in a blue moon, went there to pick up something or other, but stopped doing that once the lines got totally insane.

Anyway, we chose a line with people who mostly just had a few items. Some employee from the Floral department pulled us out of line and checked us out. I have *no idea* why. We basically ended up cutting ahead of like 100 people (or so it feels like!) It was at this point I feel like I was experiencing some cosmic shift with the universe.

Monday I cleaned out the van. I was out in the front of the house vacuuming it and taking stuff out of it, when MH came out and ended up talking to the neighbors for like 1/2 hour or more. So MH tells me, "Um, neighbor said every home in this development is wired for electric cars." What in the heck!? We bought new construction in 2001. Though I remember a lot of the sales pitch/sales material, I am pretty sure I never heard this. Ever. In fact, we already had an electrician come out and give us a quote. But our big old giant recycle bin was blocking the receptacle and we had no freaking clue!

I have no idea what that means. We tracked it down, but not sure how forward thinking home builder was in 2001. It does look like the wiring is there, but that's about it. (For a minute, we thought maybe there'd already be an outlet! No such luck).

We have another electrician coming out eventually, so maybe we can get a more accurate quote from this one. You know, with the whole, "This wiring was already done and there is a receptacle of some sort already there" thing. It's right by where we were going to put the charger (because it's right by the breaker box and made the most logical sense; probably why the home builder put it there).

Vehicle Sale:

We always keep our vehicles until they are completely run into the ground and/or they are just worthless because they are old and have so many miles. The only exception is when I sold my sports car when I had kids. It was an older model, but immaculate and very low miles. I remember calling around to some of the used car dealer and being offered pennies for it. NO WAY! We sold that car private party for $3,000. The rest of our cars, we donated when they stopped running altogether, or we just traded-in because $500 from dealer was close enough to what we'd get with the hassle of private party selling. KBB is usually around $500 when we sell.

The van? Ugh. We had originally planned to private sale for around $2,000. I mean, depends when we got around to selling it, but private party sale seemed to be the best route in this case, if we did sell it now. Which is what we did (sell it now), but it needs a $800 repair and probably $2,000-ish of body work. We may be able to easily private sale as like a mechanic's special, because overall it is still a nice vehicle. But I just have no idea what we can get for it, and I'd have to get an inspection first, etc. There is also a lot of hassle involved with that and I have a million other things to do. (If I knew I could get $2k, worth the hassle. If I am not sure I can get more than $500? Meh).

If we had bought a local car we may have just traded it in, but didn't really want to drive it 60 miles for a car purchase that was most likely not going to happen.

Then I found the magic solution. I saw on SA the tip to get your car appraised at CarMax and then some(?) dealerships have guaranteed to match that? I decided that we could probably get about $300 scrap for the van and probably could have gotten $500 from the dealer trade-in. So I figured, it wouldn't hurt to try Carmax. If they came back at $250 or something like that, would rather just scrap it. If they came in at $500 I'd be happy with that. If they came in higher, then holy cow why have I not heard of this before?

When googling more about Carmax (wasn't sure initially if they bought such old vehicles) I saw the tip to negotiate on the appraisal value. So, we made an appointment at 7:30pm Monday.

We showed up at 7:30pm and they did a once over. Actually, they called me in the a.m. to confirm appointment and asked some questions. I was very clear about body damage because just want to be as up front as possible. They really could care less about that, which made this so ideal for selling this vehicle. So then you get there and they do a quick once over to be sure they even want to bother with you. I spent about 1-2 hours cleaning the car today because they said in confirmation e-mail and on their website they would pay more if it is in nicer/cleaner condition. I wasn't going to waste any money getting it detailed, and I wasn't going to spend all day on it. But I did clean it up a wee bit.

So anyway, they do the once over. They are interested in the car, so then they take it for a test drive and do a 1/2 hour inspection.

After that they offered us $1,000. NO WAY! I am so grateful for the tip because I highly doubt any used car lot was going to offer us much of anything if we weren't going to buy a car from them. Thinking to my last experience.

This probably means we could have done better selling private party, but I am happy that it's done and I have crossed the biggest chore off of my list.

We tried to negotiate a little more and honestly they seemed open to it. But they pulled up KBB and were kind of like, "Yeah, we are offering double trade-in value. That's all we can really do." Fair enough. Just sharing for one of those, "It never hurts to ask" reminders.

One hour after we got there, we walked out with $1,000 check. So happy to cross that chore off my list!

I am going to apply these funds to the electric car charger. MH ordered one for $420 from Costco (20% off). We should get it in about a week. We have one electrician quote for $350. & I am now thinking we might be able to get that cost down significantly? Anything left over I will put back into savings.

Car Updates

September 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I've personally never had a pristine vehicle. When I bought the minivan (1-year-new/excellent condition) it was hit the day after I bought it (hit and run, while parked). The damage was cosmetic only and so we chose to never repair it. My first car had been hit more times than I remember. Anyway, over time, I just embraced it. It's hard to feel much motivation towards something really pretty and nice (and expensive), when it's out in the world getting beat up anyway. Kind of funny now that I think about it. The van came into my life and went out with a bang. In contrast, MH's cars are never in accidents and have never had so much as a scratch.

To say I am a little nervous, is an under-statement. This vehicle replaces "my" car, even if it's all been very 50/50 since we have had kids.

In the end, when I asked for some pre-buying insurance quotes, insurance agent sent over some quotes with really low deductibles. Not sure why, because we have the largest deductible possible on everything. But in the end, it was so cheap that I decided to just go with it. I don't want to be worrying about spending another $1,000+ on a cosmetic repair if someone slams into my new car tomorrow. Was something like $150/$250 deductibles. I will just go with that for a while and then we can re-evaluate in 6-12 months.

I actually drove our older car to "new employer city" Friday to drop off my employment paperwork. Met "twin" briefly but she was slammed with her job. I had made more plans to have a very long/late lunch with her, and then kill some time before an afternoon meeting. Instead, I drove home in between. Car was making such bad noises that I took the Volt for trip #2. (Didn't really want to drive it in Friday traffic, but it ended up being okay). It's very counter-intuitive because the more city driving you do and the more you brake the more fuel efficiency you get (both gas and electric). I had enough electric charge to get there, but drove gas on the way home. I was dumbfounded that we still seem to be getting 50mpg. We really thought we would buy this car for shorter trips and then use the other one for longer trips. I am now thinking this is the car for any trip.

We have a long trip today! So, will see how that goes. It will be a good test, because we do drive out of town so much to see our family.

Oh, and that 50mpg was with, "No idea what we are doing" driving. After Friday? I had to drive MM(15) to the animal shelter yesterday (volunteer shift). Had enough electricity just to get there. I realized I should hold some electric charge for the few traffic lights between the freeway in our house (return trip). So I did do that. I guess that's the strategy at this point. I am sure we still have much to learn.

We did take out "electric car buff" friend for dinner last night, to pick his brain a bit. We knew he'd want to see it too. One of the most useful tips he told us was to only buy a gallon or two of gas at a time, unless you know you are going out of town. Otherwise the gas can get stale.

Oh, and we can save $250-ish buying a fast charger at Costco. We may do that today (with one of our parent's memberships). We are probably going to be moving quick on that (versus my initial presumption that there would be no rush). The reason is we will get much lower electric rates if we can limit charging between midnight and 6am. Also, the slow charge is supposed to be 12 hours but we are finding it is more like 20 hours (to full charge). It may be we can increase it a bit, but my dad (who has a lot of electrical knowledge) was away and unreachable. We have such a new home (modern wiring) I didn't think it would really matter, but he told me yesterday he would not increase the charging speed without consulting an electrician. It's a question we will ask tomorrow, we have one coming out for a quote. It may just be my dad is being cautious, since everyone is kind of, "It should only take 12 hours". There is a setting we didn't change in the car, for faster charging with a regular outlet, because it had a scary warning.

As to electric car buff, I think he is a lot of the reason we ended up going the "electric car" route. My visceral reaction was more definitely, "No way." But the more he talked about it, the more he swayed us. He initially had a lease for an all electric car that cost pennies. At that time it was his only car, but he had free parking at his job downtown, in turn. Which entirely paid for the lease (which was heavily subsidized with tax credits and so on). Then he also didn't have fuel expenses. He was just kind of, "You have two cars? Do you REALLY need two cars that can drive 300 miles?" Honestly and truly? No. So I think at that point in time there was some realization that an electric car would be very practical for MH's mostly 6-mile round trips, all city driving. If he could have convinced us sooner, honestly we probably could have leased for $100/month (where we live). It took me too long (years) to decide that was kind of "almost too good to be true." But by then, those deals were long gone. Other than that, I'd say we are very range picky, because we do spend so much time driving to see family/friends around 120 miles away. But I do also realize that we never in a million years would need two cars to do that. (& in the rare instance it does happen, it's not like there aren't any other options).

I think one thing I also like is this whole idea of skipping the chore of getting gas. I really try to limit how much time I spend on errands and the such. & that was also another thing that really appealed about going electric (if you can just charge mostly at home; maybe also wherever you happen to be).

Anyway, this is one reason I want to share so much of the process as we dive in. If anyone can get anything at all out of me sharing information they maybe never considered.

In other randomness, MH fount out yesterday he can play movies in the car, like on the main display. He was totally freaking out with excitement. It's actually kind of funny because I told him I just left the car on the entire time I waited for MM at the animal shelter yesterday (2 hours) and MH was completely horrified. Not sure the thought would have occurred to me otherwise, but was thought to TABS and his car-living experience. I will say that will be *so nice* during our hot summers when I can just sit in the car with the A/C. It just hit me that it's not the same as idling a regular car for two hours. Absolutely nothing like that! Best I can tell, I lost one mile of driving charge. Anyway, in the end, I think MH Will follow my lead. You can't watch the movies while the car is out of park, but point is that we sit around a lot waiting for kids. So yeah, I think MH changed his tune already on that front.

We haven't done very well finding free or very low cost places to charge the car. It will take some research. But MH found a free charger right by the animal shelter. WOW! Before I took new job, that was our "big" drive. Is about 21 miles each way, and feels crazy far away. We believe we can get free electricity one way, every trip, if I can just sit and charge at this charger for 2 hours. The vast majority of the time, I just sit in the car and wait for anyway. Is just hard to do that in the middle of summer. Then I end up running errands (for the A/C!) and usually spending more money. So I am guessing this is money saved in multiple ways. We are going to check it out next time.

I don't remember how or why this even came up, but I am probably going to get the windows tinted next week. Maybe saw some car post online or something. It sounds like it will be $150-ish to do the back windows (which is all we can do legally) at a place near my old job with all 5-star reviews. I may just go over there Friday morning and then pick up my paycheck on the way home. (It's payday and is when I expect to get my final check). This car would look so nice with tinted windows, but is also would be very practical in our very hot summers. I think MH thinks I have lost my mind, but he is sensitive to the sun and I think that he will thank me when all is said and done. I just think it would be a really nice and affordable finishing touch.

Oh, and I may have found a $500 rebate for car purchase. I added that to my list of things to do when we get the plates and registration.

I will definitely be tracking and blogging about actual fuel/electricity costs. The bar to beat is set pretty low at this point because we replaced a gas guzzling minivan. The goal is to lower our fuel costs (gas & electricity) with the doubling of my work commute.

Gift Card Spending

September 16th, 2018 at 05:46 am

Saturday was the first quiet day I have had in what feels like "forever". I am did some house chores, but very minimal. Made a salmon dinner. Did Laundry. Cleaned one toilet bowl and vacuumed the bathroom floor upstairs (hair everywhere). Our house looks like a pig sty and I mostly don't know where anything is (or so it feels like), but I am hoping I have time next week to sort things out.

I think I am finally over this virus. Hence, the energy for chores.

Next week: Car #2 to mechanic, sell van, consult lawyer (or make appointment to). Trying to make plans with SF friend and one client/friend. MH has jury duty and so I may end up covering kids. Kids have all sorts of appointments, in addition school. I am sure I am forgetting things. MM(15) is going back for next phase of medical study. He will be paid $200-ish, but we both have lots of paperwork to fill out.

I was just thinking today, we have some prep to do for Finland trip. Need to do notarized permission to leave country without us (to be on the safe side). Guess I will pencil that in for next week too. *sigh*

I do not foresee much relaxing during this short time off, but I am guessing I should just be grateful that I should have time to deal with all of the above. We always try so hard to lead more calm and peaceful lives, I know that is a lot of why I feel so overwhelmed this year. I am failing spectacularly this year, but am hopeful that things will calm down in the next couple of weeks.

I really thought I had been paranoid or imagining it, but I drove car #2 about 45 miles on Friday and the engine was making some bad sounds. This means that literally Monday both our cars broke, on my first day of unemployment. Crazy Murphy! With two cars, don't remember that ever happening before? But admittedly, both are drive-able; it could be much worse.

Knock on wood, but it's been a few days since I have gotten horrible horrible news. So that is really nice.

I was so happy to see Banker Gurl's news! It's not just my real life world... It's just been very heavy this year on SA, hasn't it? It's nice to hear such amazing happy news!

We are getting through some of our (credit card reward) gift cards. MH decided to pick up a ladder today. I had picked up $200 in Home Depot gift cards to that end, but he just hadn't gotten around to it. We really needed a taller ladder. He wanted to pick up while we still had the van. In the end, it was folded up so much I'd say it didn't matter. But, I am happy to have another chore crossed off the honey do list.

I also asked MH at some point how much a copier/scanner would cost. I was just curious re: side work I might pick up. Fast forward to now, and I know they are cheap enough that I think it's good to have one for personal use. It's one thing to know your *forever employer* doesn't care that you use all their stuff for personal use. It's another thing to start new somewhere else. We actually went to Home Depot a few days ago but the ladders weren't stocked on the shelves and we didn't have time to track down help. But we had a little while before we had to pick up a kid. So we walked over to Staples just to see what they had. A lot of stuff in the $50 - $100 range. We have $100 gift cards, so even better. Was earmarking those for school supplies in case I was unemployed this summer.

That, we have to research and pick up still. I think I will just set that aside for my first part-time week at work. I have picked up some very small side jobs, and we will get some use out of it. I will be replacing a small copier I bought from Costco in 1995. (I actually used it yesterday to make copies for new employer). The crazy thing still works! But I need a scanner and something that can feed multiple pages.

Other randomness:

"Twin" tried to blow me off because she was slammed at work. Someone else had already told her my news. I hadn't thought much beyond, "The honeymoon is over," re: her new job. But in the end, she agreed to meet with me briefly Friday. She was telling me that they were so desperate for help but they just can't find anyone to hire. This market is just so crazy! (Mental note: Not budging on salary if I do ever end up going to this firm).

Of course, it's not quite that simple. We went out to dinner with a friend Friday night and he started ranting and raving about how employers are all struggling to find talent but that they refuse to increase salaries. So there is some crazy supply and demand problem right now. I know, right?! I have been completely dumbfounded with the entire, "We are so desperate for help, can you start yesterday? You have to take a 40% pay cut though." Why aren't more employers increasing salaries to fill the gap? Since I decided to quit my job I have been willing to accept a 25% pay cut. Because that's still a heck of a lot better than unemployment (and is the point we can at least pay all of our bills). It's only at the "25% pay cut" point that employers will talk to me. I've seen too many jobs posted with ridiculously low salaries. I really thought this was the reality of our lower-cost move. But, friend was telling us that is just true across the entire U.S. right now. (I do think it is exaggerated by our lower-cost move because wages were so high and unemployment was so low in our old city, but it had never occurred to me that this was more of a widespread economic reality).

In the end, I have (had) a lot of good clients who pay very well and don't have staffing problems. I knew if I had the time and patience that I would find a good employer. Fingers crossed, but I think I pulled it off. -25% would have been really a temp stepping stone to learn new skills and maybe widen my network. Not the best long-term solution for my household. In the end, I accepted this offer so readily because it was an offer I think will be okay for the long run. Will share more re: numbers later. My total compensation is decreasing 15% from "forever employer". But I am also dropping all the OT so not taking much of a hit on a per hour basis. I think I calculated that I am getting paid 1% less per hour, compare to "fake employer" (who was not paying me for my OT). & if that hadn't gone entirely to hell, I was feeling like that was about as good as it was going to get. So I am really pleased I found such a well paying job, especially since I am taking such a big step down as to responsibilities and hours.

Edited to add: I deleted some delirious/overly tired post from a few days ago. I suppose I should share again (for anyone who missed it or is lost) that next week is my last week off. New employer was too desperate for me to start. We compromised and my first week there (the following week) will be part-time.

I will do a separate car post.

New Car! Part II

September 14th, 2018 at 07:11 am

We drove about 60 miles to a dealership to look at my pearly white "dream car". In the end, it was a little scraped up and just wasn't the "one".

But... there had been a couple of cars in Napa (near where we were). At this point the blue was looking better and better, and we started talking about having a nice dinner in Napa. I was relaxing and starting to feel much better. I just needed a nice "date" with my hubby.

On the way to the Napa dealership, I was trying to refresh my memory how long these cars had been sitting, for negotiations. & checking the carfax, etc. In the end, I didn't really remember any of these cars? I had looked them up before. But minutes before we got to the dealership I see the white one was a bit of a lemon (how did I miss that before??). & then there was a grey one that was one year newer, had all sorts of premium features, only had 14,000 miles, and was priced *very* well. How did I miss this one before? What in the heck!?

MH told me he liked grey better anyway. This is the first one he is really open to talking about post blue car. I told him, I just didn't know. But that maybe I'd like blue better than grey. We just have to see it in person. We both agreed though that we'd buy this grey car even if they wouldn't come down in price. If it came to that. It hadn't been sitting too long, but had sat long enough that they had just dropped the price by 10%.

So we get to Napa dealership and they show us the lemon car. We are really intrigued by grey car at this point, but they told us literally someone just walked into the office to buy it. We were maybe 15 minutes too late. Bummer! At this point, I Was feeling maybe the blue one was "meant to be". Not that we were going to buy it last night, but just where I thought things seemed to be heading. The grey one was clearly not meant to be.

MH was joking and asks, "How often do these things fall through?" I said, "Who knows, maybe they won't be able to secure financing." & I was totally serious. The woman who was covering for the busy sales people told us she'd get her card and we would call back the next day. We went with that just because who knows, but I didn't really think we'd drive out an hour again the next day (in the offchance this deal actually fell through) just to have this potentially happen again. Anyway, the grey Volt was parked right next to where we had parked and so we were really giving it a good once over while she got her business card. I felt a little silly knowing this car was essentially someone else's car now. Like, you don't go up to someone's car and start peering inside and checking it all out. But I *really* liked the color in the end. Surprisingly so. It's more of a metallic dark silver? I don't even know that I have even noticed/seen this color on this car before.

Between waiting for the business card and looking over the car, we ended up dilly dallying for a while. We were just kind of resignedly getting back into our cars when this woman runs back out and says, "Wait! They don't want the car!"

Some part of me right now is just like, "Seriously? Does every little thing in my life have to be a complete roller coaster right now?" But I will admit we have a fun story to share to go along with the most elaborate car we have ever bought. HA!

& I was absolutely horrified how much we had just drooled over the car. But I think it was moot because we were already okay with the price. Also, the first thing the salesman tells us is that they had just dropped the price $2k, and the people had said they wanted the car at that price and then later after paperwork was started they wanted to drop off $500. They said no, and they were really pissy about it. Dealership was pissy about how late in the process they decided to negotiate. It might also be because we were outside drooling over the car.

{In the end, the car was $2k below kbb, or more in line with private party pricing}.

BTW, salesman was so nice. The most pleasant car buying experience of our lives. By a mile. & I don't mean because we bought up so significantly, but because he didn't tell us infinite lies and it was pretty clear to us all along (before we got there) that there would be no wiggle room on price.

& so that is how we found our car! 2017 Chevy Volt (Plug-In Hybrid)

We did score low miles and premium sound, plus some extra luxuries. We had also learned very quickly in the car shopping process that the carpool lane stickers on these cars were all expiring December of this year. Not a huge deal because neither of us drive in traffic 99% of the time. For whatever reason, at some point while looking at this car, I thought to check the stickers because it was one year newer than all the other cars we had looked at. I wasn't expecting much because most likely they were going to expire this year too. But, there were no stickers?? Unbelievable! In the end, no one ever applied for them (prior owner?) and so we get to use the carpool lane solo for the next 3+ years. (Because we can apply for the new round of carpool stickers). This car just had a lot of little perks like that. (This is one of the things they should be advertising, but you just have to figure out on your own that it's a really good deal).

The actual purchase ended up taking so long (they were having a very busy week day), that the kids were asleep by the time we got home. I just told them over the phone that the 2005 basic minivan may as well be a horse and buggy and this car is a spaceship. We have always experienced significant upgrades because since around age 25+ we have always bought one-year-old cars and replaced cars that are 15-20 years old. But this one most definitely takes the cake. & we definitely paid the premium. Car ended up being $22,000, or about $9,000 more than we have ever spent on a car. But I just feel so at peace with it because of all the times we both were so incredibly frugal with our cars. & also, it most definitely feels like the premium was worth it as to everything we are getting with this car.

Instead of dinner and wine at a fancy restaurant, we stopped at Taco Bell around 8:30pm. HA! & MH ordered a bigger dinner and wanted to figure out more of the settings on the car. I just "ate and ran" because I didn't want to drive home too tired. Was past my bedtime by this point. (No way I was driving the brand new car home, tired and in the dark, through an area I do not know well).

Car logistics...

In the interim, we can just plug into our regular garage outlet and it will fully charge in about 12 hours. I already registered the vehicle with our electric company for reduced electricity rates. Will see how the electric costs sort out. (I've researched that but just don't remember off the top of my head). Our electricity is provided cheaply by a city/non-profit utility and is all green energy.

It may cost $1,000-ish (maybe less, but just rounding up generously) to install a fast charger in our garage that will charge the car in 4 hours. There is absolutely no rush on this front.

For whatever reason, the insurance was pretty cheap (which was the opposite of what I had heard and expected). That was another deciding factor. This is technically "my" car as to this is what replaced my car that I brought into the marriage. Post kids, our cars are very 50/50 though. We had a minivan and a small compact car, and it just depends on the day who needs what. We are going to fight over this car like crazy!

Back to the electricity logistics... The electric range is 53 miles. You can choose to just run the gas engine instead. Or, it will just switch automatically to gas when you run out of charge.

The car is *so quiet* which is also a factor we heavily considered with MH's disability. Definitely willing to spend more on quieter cars.

The car is probably most practical as to MH's endless city driving (driving 3 miles each way to work and to pick up kids). We would never have to put gas in this vehicle, and so gives us the chance to test out life with an "100% electric vehicle" mindset. BUT, we bought this car also with my commute in mind. I just went from 11 to 22 miles (each way). I can go roundtrip every day on the electric, easy peasy.

I think MH mostly concedes that the gas savings is more important at this point with the pay cut I took with my new job. But I am certainly not going to hog it completely to myself. We will find a way to share. It's still going to be a 50/50 car. Gas car will make more sense for longer trips or when the four of us want to go somewhere (because it is much more roomy in the backseat).

Some final thoughts:

We really almost pulled the trigger on something maybe even more expensive in the spring. I was really really unhappy at that point in time (with work situation and everything else). At that point in time, I had no idea how work situation would sort out. At some point I recognized very logically that this was just *stupid*. I *knew* that buying an expensive car was not going to make me any happier. & in fact would just add more stress that I didn't need (draining so much of our cash reserves on a car. Or alternatively, adding a monthly bill right before I knew I would be taking a significant pay cut). Logic won. But the feelings were very real.

I am happy to say that I feel the complete polar opposite today. Because we are both so financially conservative, there is definitely an element that this feels very wild and rash. But, I also know that I am mostly making a sound and logical decision. I think most importantly, this purchase isn't being made around those feelings of unhappiness.

If you hadn't picked up on it, we paid cash. We did not purchase any extras. Just car, sales tax, license fee. My parents gave us a cash gift and we had also already saved $15,000 (over 13 years) to replace minivan. So we still have some excess cash to sort through once my employment situation levels out. For now, still hoarding the excess until I feel out the new job.

So... What a week! New car and new job. So much excitement. I think we were long overdue for some happy news. So I am kind of riding the wave of fun and excitement right now. We were going to be in the Bay Area this weekend for the Beach Boys concert. So we will drive it down and show it off to our parents this weekend.

In-laws are gifting their old car to MM(15). End of this year. They are looking at hybrids and so on, to replace that car, and I think we may push them to buy this car. They are being so *cheap*. I honestly wish they'd keep the cash gifts the usually give us and put that extra $5k or $10k to a car like this. Our goal is to get them to make the splurge at 70 that we did at 40. Life is short. & I think that can be a very dumb justification in most cases. But when you are 70 and are beyond financially comfortable... I know they would absolutely love this car! One of their siblings inherited some money recently and bought a Tesla. Maybe we will sway them. We can sell this as the poor man's Tesla?

Edited to add: Our electricity is estimated to cost about $500 per year to power our new vehicle (based on miles driven, presuming it's all electric driving). This is a very personal estimate based on our actual electric usage and rates (including the doubling of my old commute). Since we drove so much the past two days without a full charge, we've used about a gallon of gas. Roughly, one gallon to drive about 50 miles. I am a little blown away since I think official numbers are more like 40mpg, or same as our other car. Will test out on a longer drive (250 miles) this weekend.

New Car! Part I

September 14th, 2018 at 05:41 am

We ended up pulling the trigger yesterday.

To be clear, we are replacing a 2005 minivan. Though it's the newest car we have ever ditched, we just aren't "big car" people and have been scheming to ditch the van most the years I have blogged here. Early on it had been more of a plan to make a lateral car change (which we have certainly done in the past, no big deal). I'd say last time we almost pulled the trigger I was surprised how "in demand" older used cars were. In the farther past, I've generally been the only contender with private parties. In this case, I laughed (to myself) when some guy tried to say he had lots of interested buyers, but it ended up being the truth! So the cars were just being sold much faster than we wanted to act, and we probably had other reservations too. I think around the 10 year mark of owning the van (2016) we decided we were done and ready to just move on to our next "new-to-us" big car upgrade. We had agreed around that point to not put any big repairs into the van. I share just to be clear this is not a whim purchase.

This is one reason I really like paying cash for cars. (It's never the reasons everyone actually assumes). There's been significant upside and savings to just waiting. We've never paid more than $13,000 for a vehicle before, and those were the "big purchases." (The one we bought a few years ago and the minivan). Everything before that was $500 - $5,000. Way too easy to spend too much money when you start justifying the loans. & I say this age 16-40. At 40+, it was maybe a little too easy to spend the money with cash, but I still had to be comfortable writing the check. If I could only justify it by financing the last few thousand dollars? I knew we'd be stretching way too far.

Mostly where we were at before van had problems this week was that we had settled on buying an electric car and probably a Chevy Volt. The Volt is an electric plug-in but is also a gas powered car. So it's the best of both worlds. I think this is going to be a really good in-between car as to transitioning to full electric. The technology is on such a fast curve right now that we were more envisioning paying $5k-$15k for a used one (and were pretty close to pulling the trigger this past year when we test drove some incredible deals). But in the end, every time it was like, "The van's fine. Let's just wait another year so we can double the electric range and get a car that practically drives itself anyway."

As I share more about the electric car ownership later, I will also have to share a Money Mustache post where I believe he bought a brand new Nissan Leaf (electric only) for $15,000-ish out of pocket. I just want to be clear that this is more along the lines what we were thinking. There are a lot of incentives in our state too, and a healthy supply of very low priced used electric vehicles. It was never our plan to pay MSRP for a brand new hybrid or electric car. Most people will at least get a tax credit to offset the extra cost.

We've personally never considered the "new" route too seriously because we don't have enough income to be able to utilize the credit. For example, you have to have at least $7,500 in income taxes to offset the $7,500 Federal tax credit. As of today, you can get $13,000 off of a new Nissan Leaf in our state with rebates and tax credits (I just saw our electric company is also offering a $3,000 rebate, which was news to me). & Money Mustache had also gotten substantial discounts from the dealer. I think $5,000 off for taking a car loan. I absolutely would have financed a vehicle to save $5,000.

For whatever reason we had zeroed in on the Volt. It's the best of both worlds. It's been my "dream car" for the past several years as to it's appearances alone, and is absolutely the polar opposite of how I would ever buy a car. It just turns out to be an exceptional car also. I would say this was the first time we bought a car as to what we really wanted. Versus always being happy in the past with whatever random deal we come across.

{In the end, used 2018 Toyota Corollas are flooding our market right now and are priced around $13,500. Unbelievable! This is precisely how we have always car shopped in the past: Open to whatever might cross our path. In this case, we looked at a couple but just felt very "meh" about it}.

We looked at a blue 2016 Volt Wednesday, that I think we could probably talk down to $19k (because it's blue). Certified pre-owned and totally immaculate. MH was really leaning towards this car. I was being a little wishy washy. After sleeping on it, I told him that if we were really going to pull the trigger on more of a "Dream car" I Wanted the pearly white.

So yesterday we scheduled to take a look at a few deals out of town. In the end, I was not feeling well and had no desire whatsoever to clean out the van while MH was at work (for trade-in). When MH got home he was really pushing (I was surprised) but I just wasn't feeling well and didn't care at that point. He finally suggested I take a nap. I didn't realize I'd have time for that, or otherwise maybe I would have napped earlier. It did help to lay down for maybe 1/2 hour. I think we had an hour before he had to get kids from school. MH was still really pushing because didn't want to go this weekend. (It would be crowded and we have had so much stuff going on every day this week). I finally caved (lord knows I was excited to look at pearly whites). I figured I was probably in a good mindset for car shopping anyway. I wasn't going to be overly excited about it.

Oh, and I had also talked MH into forgetting about the van. I am guessing we will most likely scrap it. I doubt we'd get more than $200 more in trade-in, and I didn't think it was likely we'd buy car yesterday. Driving the gas guzzlers 100+ miles to look at cars? When it's not in the best condition? Meh.

To be continued...

Got the Job!

September 10th, 2018 at 08:58 pm

Today was so totally crazy, because that's the theme this year!

I missed the call because new employer totally faked me out (said they were interviewing people tomorrow, though I *knew* I got the job). So I didn't look at my phone and missed the acceptance by several hours. DOH! Will finalize details tomorrow.

Anyway, I think I squeaked by. Technically today was my last day at old job (though I only stopped by for like an hour). & I got a new job before I was unemployed.

More details tomorrow (I like wrote a book, but I am kind of delirious from lack of sleep, so will post later with more details). Yeah, not only did I get the job, but I probably couldn't have been more of a wreck for that interview today. I just could not sleep last night, which was very frustrating for someone who never has any problem sleeping, no matter how stressed. I think it's just my stress level was at 11 and/or this virus we all have in my house now. Okay, so clearly I was not a wreck, but I felt like it on the inside, for sure.

So, two of the most stressful experiences of my entire life (job from hell/trying to escape from job from hell + job searching, which has always been easy for me, in the end, but is also very hard/painful because I am way too hard on myself)... Well, those are two stressors I don't have any more. It's going to take some time to process, but I was pretty ecstatic to get the news. & I am also ecstatic that I have a few weeks off without any "job search" stress.

Anyone who has had to suffer me this year (including you) has gotten the news. HA!

I turned in my keys today at old job. I have been mourning the loss of this job all year. I broke down a bit last week. It is going to be really weird and an adjustment. Not sure how I will handle emotionally. I am hoping though that most of the mourning has been done. But I also know the reality hasn't totally set in. I am not a dweller and I never look back, so it may honestly be I never really think about it again. Is just how I am wired. But I also think it will probably feel very weird and will be an adjustment period for such a big life change.

One more thing I have to share. "Twin's" new job is down the street from me. !!! (1/2 mile, to be exact. So crazy random). Maybe we will do weekly lunches for a while to help us adjust. I just have to be careful because she is going to be in major recruiting mode. Her job sounds like pure crap compared to the one I landed. HA! (I would have totally visited her pre-interview to de-stress, but she is off on some tropical vacation).

Edited to add: Night 2 on no sleep. UGH! Canceled my appointment today, but will try to get this "old employer" lunch over it. Will cancel if it's too unsafe to drive. I think it's this virus. No one in my house got any sleep the night before. Part of my "book" post I will get to later is our car broke and I have to drive everyone around today. Like every 2 hours or so I have to drive someone somewhere, which sounds like torture at this point because I just want to get some sleep. Anyway, if I am MIA, I am trying to get over this. Will share more details when I have them and when I have some decent sleep behind me.

Time Off = HA!

September 8th, 2018 at 08:40 am

I know that as I get time and space from my work situation, it will all get better. I am hoping next week feels like a lot of time compared to this "all encompassing" work situation. Unfortunately, I still think it's going to be "quite encompassing." As is job searching.

A couple of people (old co-worker and a client) have really encouraged me to take some time off in between jobs. I was leaning more towards that way, but just had too many really good opportunities last week. & I feel I should be looking, even if I just have to be a little more assertive as to start date. But anyway, I did want to share this because both of these people are childless. I don't think their idea what time off looks like is in line with my reality. Ha!

Loose plans to do with my (who knows how long) time off: I wanted to make it a priority to get my professional education done for the year, while I have some extra time. It is doubtful that I can continue to do this on company time, since I am going in another career direction. I did find some time last weekend to make sure I had all those records and to see where I was at with things. I need to get 20 hours of work done. May just cram it in next week to be done?

Other than that, I Feel like I am drowning on every level. Need some time to get the house in order, to go through e-mails, to help DL with whatever he is going through (teen angst/mental illness), to make sense of work files I have strewn everywhere around the house (cleaning out the office a little at a time; planning my exit all year long ~ no time to deal with any of it). & maybe if I am home, maybe MH might want me to pick up some slack on the home front (reasonably so). & to be clear, I don't think he expects anything whatsoever of me the next couple of weeks.

So yeah, I was already feeling some measure of, "Time Off? HA!"

That said, I am taking today off to do NOTHING. MM has been sick all week and I have been feeling the start of something all week. It is an absolute miracle that I am not sick, with my stress level and exhaustion. But maybe it will hit me eventually. Today it's just bed and couch. Brain dump here too, because I need it.

This is my schedule so far for next week:

Monday:
**Job interview a.m. (looks like a really good fit, possibly less than 40 hours per week)
**Stop by office for "final day"
**Recruiter meeting around noon
**Probably back to office for final wrap up (depends how long a.m. interview runs)

NOTE: Have to update my resume to reflect my job ending. I will probably do this today + make up a reference list.

Tuesday:
**Lunch with old employer and his wife. They just didn't have time for me last week.

**Meeting with a client who told me that he felt abandoned.

I might try to schedule some more of these on Tuesday. May end up with some side work. Mostly not interested, and my priority is finding another full-time job. But on the flip side, want to help how I can and I think it's good to open the conversation in case I am unemployed for a while. (I am being extraordinarily picky as to clients I am engaging with and services I am willing to offer on my own).

Wednesday:
**BIG interview in San Francisco

**Apply for unemployment? I need some time to try to compress this entire ball of crazy into a very clear explanation that I was laid off (for all intents and purposes; employer is completely MIA at this point). This is for more backup purposes (if I end up unemployed for a while), but even getting one or two weeks of unemployment benefits is better than nothing.

This "tech start up" interview process is pretty intense. I am hoping my stress level drops a bit after Wednesday.

Will see how crazy the rest of the week ends up being. Amazing job opportunities aside, I may just earmark the following week as a bit of a "vacation". & that may be mostly focusing on the home front (infinite chores), but that's okay. Would definitely be a change of pace and a huge stress level decrease.

In other news, I e-mailed my SF bff to see where she was working these days. Looks like her office is right by where I am interviewing. She replied and told me she hated her job and her entire profession and she had quit and is taking some time off. HA! I guess there is something about turning 40+. I'd love to meet up with her anyway, but now I really really really want to meet up with her.

I broke all this out into 2 posts, because it was just a lot.

Will It Ever End??

September 8th, 2018 at 06:01 am

I suppose I am 80%-ish done with work. Bear with me.

Yesterday was my official last day. & was probably at least two more days than I initially had planned. UGH!

I am going back Monday. I think I just needed to space it out a bit for my sanity. It's part that, and part unemployment/gas savings. (Need to pinch pennies where I can). I have two interviews Monday, and my office is right in between. It will be a good place to regroup. It's kind of moot because everyone abandoned me and no one to turn my key into yesterday. HA! (Which happens when you have like only one employee). But anyway, to be fair, I told them I'd just drop off my keys Monday.

Monday: Do a once over (when I have a little time and breathing room) and make sure I didn't forget anything. Turn in keys and passwords. I need to turn in my final time card. I do also have some files to go through still (am relieved to have a little time Monday to do so) and will work somewhat on transferring knowledge and files to "workaholic".

I am not surprised at all that I didn't get my last paycheck on Friday. I think it's for the best because I just know it would have been impossible to be paid for Monday, otherwise. BUT, on the flip side, they owe me a $400 tax-free penalty for every day my paycheck is late. That they seem so oblivious to this very basic (and expensive!) labor law, is just one of infinite things that bother me about this company. (My state does not play around with this stuff). This could tip the scales for me pursuing a legal consultation. I would rather get my paycheck next week and move on with my life. Will see... (I don't know how much any of these kind of decisions are influenced by lack of cash flow or by idiocy. Seems to be a lot of both going around).

In the end, Wednesday was the HARD day. Thursday I Didn't tell anyone I was leaving. I just couldn't deal with that any more, so sent out a slew of e-mails late Thursday night. I know many clients will view this as really crappy, but it's really for the best. If they are pissy enough to move on, that is really what is in their best interest.

Friday, I was not sad at all. So much ridiculousness ensued, and it all felt so futile. Things were kind of coming to a head as to panicked clients (probably spurred by my departure). I didn't get the memo on the newest story we are telling clients. *sigh* (I can't remember what the story is today or who I told what). I know that will never end, because I will continue to get these questions (maybe even moreso) when I am no longer employed. Never heard "boo" from fake employer and they were also ghosting the new receptionist. (Usually she corresponds with them daily). I wonder if that is coming to a head. There's only so long they can pretend, and I think it's getting to be too ridiculous for them to pretend any more. They've shift to "avoidance" mode. I also started going over some client stuff with "workaholic" and it seems entirely futile as to his workload, if any of these clients will even stay anyway, and how little time I have to do this properly. In any normal situation I'd be available to answer questions. You just have to with this kind of job. I don't know where to draw the line with this whole crap show. Will have to work that out in the coming weeks. (I am not too concerned, the more I think about it, because I rarely keep my cell phone on me and tend to be unreachable. & I am guessing I won't get as many calls if I take hours/days to respond). But I am feeling some measure of, "Will this ever end??" There was more. I think just a lot of things coming to a head, plus the reality of it all. I was not sad at all to leave, and it might have been honestly because I was more concerned about not getting mugged. Literally. (I never work late alone, but everyone left and I wanted to get to a point where I could just drop off my keys if I have to). I think that honestly on Monday I am only going to feel relief when I turn in those keys.

My clients are all beside themselves and some of the good ones will need some hand holding. (Some of the others, whatever. I don't care). So I am kind of feeling like this job never ends. Maybe feeling frustrated that it's not the kind of job you can really make a clean break from. I have some very long-term relationships to sort through.

The, "Will it ever end?" question just applies to everything. I talked to my mom last night and there was a death in the family (24yo, auto accident). That is just one highlight of a very bad week of family tragedy and drama.

I am going to try to break this out into 2 posts.

The Longest Week...

September 6th, 2018 at 06:07 am

Having had like the worst year of my life, and more challenges than I ever remember... I was so utterly unprepared for how HARD this week would be. WOW!

I really thought that Tuesday would be my hump day. Wanted to cross off my last big project at work and I also had a really big job interview. All of that went well. Phew!

Wednesday, I had a phone interview. So now I have a second interview with them next week. (They wanted to do it today!) & I have third interview with tech startup next week. If I had to choose between these two jobs, it would be really really hard.

I then started blowing off everyone after that because I was just DROWNING. Got another callback. Thankfully they were mellow about me putting them off to next week. It was a recruiter that is handling the hiring, and most recruiters have been pretty obnoxious and impatient. Everyone needs someone who can start like yesterday. (& I totally understand if they had replied with, "You don't have 5 minutes?? You applied for the job!" But no, I don't have 5 minutes. I have absolutely reached my limit for this week).

Yesterday I started telling all my "easy" clients that I am leaving. The ones who have been pretty sheltered from our office drama and I didn't think would ask me a million questions. I had to make one difficult call because I need some information to finish up and they aren't getting it to me. Thankfully, they had it to me (the info) within hours of this call. Phew! But that one was very hard.

By 4:00 I Was pretty exhausted on every front, and started packing up my office a bit. I think the combo of that and telling clients made it all just very real. I was a bit of a wreck after that. NO IDEA how I am going to do this for two more days.

New receptionist held all my calls yesterday and is so totally awesome. Phew!

Today is just going to be more of yesterday, but worse. Friday, I can't even...

On the "fake job" front:

--We have no janitor service (they weren't paid) and that means we are almost out of toilet paper. New receptionist was writing e-mails about that. I told her to cc: me. My unemployment claim is a total slam dunk at this point. I have reams of ridiculous e-mails about unpaid bills and how desperate we are for staff (the staffing issues go back to March).

--I have still not heard one peep about my resignation. I think these people are done pretending. Could you even imagine resigning from a company and not even getting a response? For a high level/professional position you held for 16 years prior?

Whatever, this certainly helps my unemployment claim. I didn't have any time for their drama anyway. I am personally fine with it and never expected anything different. But it is just so completely ridiculous. I didn't even get a fake nicey nice e-mail about, "Sorry to see you go." That is the part I am surprised about.

I think it probably never occurred to them that I quit without another job lined up, so they aren't bothering to pretend like I have no other choice. I think also they are kind of moronic and have no idea what they are doing anyway. (If I file an unemployment claim, I honestly don't think they have the experience or organization to fight it). But if they wanted to make my life more difficult, they would pretend like they don't want me to go or that I could transfer to another office or something.

& Another One...

September 2nd, 2018 at 02:37 pm

Another *crazy* week... Accidents, hospitals, cancer, biopsies, blahblahblah. It's too much to process.

I gave my one-week notice to my "fake employer" on Friday. It's clear (now) that they have no intention whatsoever to keep this office going. So I started calling them my "fake employer". I don't have any answers. I would prefer to just walk out (next Friday). But I didn't want to give them any fuel whatsoever. Like, "Monkey Mama didn't give us any notice so that's why we didn't hire anyone." HA! (For reference, we are down from 6 to 1 employee, once I walk out). Anyway, on the offchance they will hire someone, wanted to give them *some* notice. I otherwise stalled because I was waiting for a reimbursement (that it was pretty clear they never intended to pay). & more to the point, wanted to secure my paycheck through the 31st. They are crazy and unpredictable so the thought occurred to me they may kick me out. (Very unlikely, but who knows at this point).

I ended up submitting my resignation pretty late Friday (by e-mail), so only *crickets* so far, which is all I really expect at this point.

Next week will be fun! HA! I don't know if I will be subject to some BS where they pretend they don't know why I am quitting. (UGH!) & then there's the clients... I may be avoiding because I don't know what to say really, and I know I will never get any work done once that starts. It's going to be one very bad final bridge to cross.

I am mostly of the mind that I won't find a new job until I get a little time and space from current work situation. & I do want to take some time off. That said, I have been perusing jobs all year. Last Monday was particularly bad and frustrating. Several jobs had popped up over the weekend. But when I sat down to apply, they weren't in my pay range. One was a municipality and wasn't really a job posting as much as creating an eligibility pool. Plus, their application ended up being very extensive. It was late, I was exhausted, I don't have time for this! & I had a really awkward call with a recruiter earlier in the day that had also burst my bubble. So yeah, that's my Monday. MH told me to let it go and stop looking for jobs for like 3 more weeks or something. (Finish up work AND then take at least a week off). Or at least let it go for the week. I was way too stressed with work situation (& everything else going on in my life right now).

Then Tuesday the Universe laughed at me and my phone was ringing off the hook (Recruiters). I saw several good jobs that I applied for during the week. (None of the applications were particularly stressful or time consuming). One recruiter called me about a very short commute job. The pay and location were both very good. Some of the other jobs were only 4 days per week (but decent pay).

Anyway, there was some jobs close to my current pay range, some with significantly reduced hours and responsibilities. Many with decent commutes. Also, a high paying government job that was easy to apply for (compared to other government jobs). It was a good mix this week. For the first time, I feel like I have a lot of options. & I really needed that this week. Phew!

MH said something like I am obviously putting more effort on this front. HA! No. Not at all. It's just my stars aligned this week. Actually, all this happened after I decided to take the workweek off from job hunting. (But I will say that my salary expectations have been more realistic this past month. Regional salaries are just much lower than I had realized).

Oh, the other thing that lightened my mood last week is that I applied at a tech startup Tuesday a.m. and they called me back within a couple of hours. (Wow!) They are really moving fast on this one.
My feelings earlier last week were that I was skeptical and really wished I had more opportunities to compare. But as of Friday, I am starting to get a little more excited about this job. If I do get a job offer in the next week or two, not sure I can turn it down. Will see how the next interview goes.

In general, I don't tend to view decisions like this as particularly permanent. Was just discussing that with MH. I feel like most people over stress big life decisions. I am kind of just, whatever. This is a risk and something very different, BUT, what's the worst that happens? I hate it and I look for another job? *shrugs*

It probably also helps that I am viewing the next 9-12 months as somewhat experimental. Want to see what else is out there. Don't have to worry about finances in this time period. In another year I might have to make some more tough decisions.

I will deal with whatever. I would be very happy with more time off between jobs. So if that's the worst that happens, it's not bad. I will do a separate financial post later. The short version is: I have no money worries for September and October. Bills (for those months) will be paid with my final paychecks.

Just Another Crazy Week

August 22nd, 2018 at 12:07 pm

I thought I had a bit of a reprieve yesterday. I got final medical results back and everything looks pretty good. Putting a pin in that, at least. No follow up for another 6 months.

I wouldn't have been surprised if I needed surgery. It's just been that kind of a year. So it's a huge relief to know that surgery is not a consideration at this point. Phew!

So, I had a few hours of relative peace and calm?

We then got the news last night that a close relative of MH's had been in a horrible accident. No one told us Monday, I think because they weren't even sure if he would make it. They told us last night. It sounds like he is doing a lot better. I have very few details.

This year just won't let up!

I think we were just in shock. MH was re-arranging his schedule to be available this weekend. I told him this morning that if he needs to go, I can cover for him (kids/household). I do have a 3:00 appointment today, and so we agreed to just discuss it more tonight. Maybe we can get more info in the meantime.

The work front is another post for another day. But I did already mostly clean out my office (16+ years of crap, took all day Saturday). Trying to decide if I even bother giving notice to my "fake employer" ~ the one who does absolutely nothing but pays my paycheck. & it's an absolute miracle that our new receptionist remains. Any sane person would have walked out by now.

I actually texted "awesome admin" today and she is absolutely blowing up my phone. No one's talked to her since her last day? I am kind of like, "Okay, so it's not just me? My life is totally insane right now?!" Because I think I left out about 95% of what has happened, and we are only talking what's happened in the office since she left. I am meeting her for dinner tomorrow. I met "twin" for lunch last week. I think that is part of my current ZEN with things. "Twin" absolutely loves her new job. The job is not my first choice, but it is a solid backup plan (for me). I would value her opinion much more after she's been there for more than a week. It feels good to have a backup plan, but I am also a little skeptical.

The Year I Aged 10 Years

August 16th, 2018 at 06:04 pm

Yesterday a car blew a tire and careened across like 5 lanes of freeway, right in front of me. By some miracle no cars were hit and they managed to keep control and steer the car to the shoulder. This is like the third time I've seen a car do this during this year. I remember like -0- times ever before that.

This year is going to be the death of me!

Heart Attack #2 was when MM(15) Was at gymnastics and MH called me sounding panicked and asking about the emergency room. I am just waiting for him to break his head, so I had a little heart attack. In the end, he broke his toe before class really started. He said he just jumped up onto the tumble track, hit his toe on some ledge, and broke it. You don't know how relieved I was to hear it was just his toe. In the end, no one was in the emergency room and they took him right away.

He did actually need it reset, and I think this probably worked out for the best that we rushed him to ER. It would have been easy to presume he could wait until morning. Or maybe another Doctor wouldn't have felt an X-ray was necessary. We've already maxed out our deductible, so I feel *shrugs* about it financially. I had kept my crutches specifically for him.

This is my complete daredevil child. He is also completely charmed and this is his first bone break. I can't believe he wasn't even tumbling when he got hurt. Phew!

About 5 minutes after that my parents called me because they were worried about family friend. He fell and wasn't found for several days. This was a couple of months ago. He just got home from rehab on Saturday and we got him settled; he lives an hour away from all of us (half way between my parents and us). Anyway, no one had heard from him for a couple of days and my parents were feeling all sorts of guilt about things they didn't do to help him. (They didn't charge his phone and remembered they should have left it more within his reach. Stuff like that). In the end, he was okay. Phew!! But my nerves were pretty shot by this point.

It's not any one thing this year. It's the constant emotional roller coaster and barrage of bad news. The work situation wouldn't be half as bad if everyone was actually healthy and well and not all out on bereavement and everything. It's just so heavy and emotionally exhausting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the work front...

**deleted due to pending legal actions**

For context, post deletions, I will add that "useless employee" was diagnosed with cancer and is out on medical leave. The way that "fake employer" handled this is what made my decision to leave. To the point I could not even wait to find another job first. I gave a few weeks notice to "workaholic" and "old employer" (who are trying to salvage the business). At the time, I was unaware of pending legal issues. The ship was already in the process of a deep dive, but I just didn't know. 3 weeks later, I feel I am not getting out soon enough! But, thankfully I am out.

(Mostly, I knew I would be left covering admin duties on top of doubling my workload already. But I was also appalled by the way they treated cancer employee and how they delayed a good hire so long she couldn't train them. & I mean they "hired" new employee and said, nevermind they didn't really hire her, and then asked her to come back a week later, the day before the surgery. What are the odds she would even accept the job at this point? In the end, no one knows how to do her job, there is no one to train her, and it's totally insane. Things have devolved pretty quickly from this point).

Where I was at when "twin" gave her notice in late July, was just, "I am not going to stick around for tax season." It was not anything so crazy and dire at that point. I really thought I could take a few months to find another job.

Back to School

August 13th, 2018 at 05:36 am

Final vacation tally ended up being right about $2,000. I've already paid off all the charges. I usually enjoy the float a wee bit more, but paid everything off while trying to figure out next job steps. The extra $2,000 balance would have just stressed me out, and I wanted a clearer idea of where our cash stood. I needed to pay off the (travel) reward credit card anyway.

Our road trip was 2300 miles. 8 days, 7 nights.



After that, kids went back to school. I would say we have done about nothing for that. Last night I frantically signed forms very late. I passed everything else off to MH. Absolutely nothing has been purchased. It sounds like the kids don't really need anything. DL is Year #3 at his school and MM is year #2. School before that provided all supplies in exchange for $25 every year. So we did buy a lot of supplies the last two years as they transitioned to new schools. No one needs new PE clothes or anything like that, this year.

DL has two music classes and a free period this year. I think the break will be good for him.

MM attends the polar opposite school and has to take an extra class in to get in his one elective/art class (needs an art class for college prep?) We were relieved to find out the first day of school that he got the art class. So that we don't have to figure it out later or scramble for summer school one year. Phew! He is taking a 0 period class so that he can squeeze in the extra class. The timing is good for me. As I am considering a longer than 10-minute commute, or an employer who may not be super flexible, etc. I told him I thought the timing worked out pretty well, even when discussing this many months ago. It really frees me up. He starts school at 7am every single day. Next year he will be driving himself.

This is all well and good unless I end up in a job situation where I can't take him to school. In that case, MH will murder me. Big Grin (He is a night owl and I am an early bird). MM(15) is an early bird so this is no big deal to him.

The Well Timed Vacation

August 4th, 2018 at 05:41 am



I don't know if I have ever been happier to get the heck out of dodge. Big Grin

Just checking in. Will be driving home today.

I questioned our sanity doing a road trip in a small car because DL(13) has had a rough time on the mental health front. Which translates into super moody and not talking a lot of the time. Anyway, it hasn't been all sunshine and roses, but he has enjoyed our road trip 1,000 times more than I would have imagined. So maybe this is just what he needed.

I think I was envisioning a more frugal road trip. We probably squeaked by ($1,500 budget) with $500 in hotel expenses, $200 in gas, and about $800 in food spending. But we did do a few expensive museums (or, adds up with 4 people, even if not expensive). & it will be about $250 to board our cat so long (dropped him off a day early and will pick him up tomorrow, just to allow for extra time and also their hours).

The hotels were only so expensive because our last two nights were on the coast. We had to scramble to even find a room. What was left was beautiful but more than I'd spend otherwise.

One funny thing about this trip. Well, two. The first entire day was cancelled due to wildfires. Not funny funny. But our last attempted road trip was mostly cancelled due to government shutdown. So it was a little deja vu on day #1. & given the year it's been I thought this might just be a total disaster. I was really wary like what the hell are we doing?! We should stay home... #2 funny funny is on average once per day our food orders have been wrong so we keep getting tons of free food (keeping the food we didn't order and also being given more food to compensate). It's kind of hilarious. It keeps the teen boys happy and is probably why we've barely touched our road trip snacks.

As to canceled day #1, we had to cut out a couple of things due to time regardless, and so we may just make a day trip of it at some point in the future.

Highlights of our trip: Crater Lake (actually could see it on Day #2, but was hazy). AMAZING. I put it as #3 in the most amazing views I have ever seen, even with the haze. MH wants to go back and do it right on a clear day. Mt. St. Helens (which really awed my moody DL). Olympic National Forest. Except for Seattle we mostly stuck to the great outdoors.

Audiobooks?

July 25th, 2018 at 06:48 pm

We are gearing up for our Pacific Northwest road trip.

The first 4 nights of hotels added up to $561, or exactly the amount of our credit card reward! (I did not plan that, whatsoever). Crazy!

I wanted to ask if anyone has any audiobook suggestions. (Or podcasts).

I am open to anything. But my kids are probably pretty picky. (They are book snobs, would be bored out of their mind as to anything geared at kids). Non-fiction might be better.

(For any frame of reference, the picky kid's favorite author is Brandon Sanderson. Which might be what we end up with because my family is frustrated I never read any of his books. It just sounds like a huge commitment. So they will trap me in a car and make me listen to it! Which is fine, but I might want something a little lighter to break it up. Maybe we can compromise with that).

We hadn't really thought about it, and we realize it's going to be harder than in the past to find something we all agree on.

I think the rest of us are pretty open to whatever. So we might get some new ideas we wouldn't have otherwise.

TIA!

Horrible Week

July 22nd, 2018 at 09:11 am

We were blindsided last week when we learned that MH has a second brain tumor. My first impression is that the odds of this happening are extremely low. & I'd say he has a pretty rare health diagnosis with just the one. Lucky him! We are anxious every year as we monitor tumor growth on tumor #1. I can't say it ever occurred to us that they would find something new.

For the short run, it was good news as could be I guess. Tumor #1 didn't grow. We will consider that a win.

Tumor #2 seems to be of little concern. But it's one more thing to worry about. I don't remember what kind of Doctor MH has at the moment. He was the cyber knife Doctor. I just call them brain doctors. But cyber knife/brain Doctor was going to consult with some neurosurgeons. We are waiting to hear back. He's been so dismissive that we will probably get another opinion. We have a million questions. (Silver lining: He isn't too concerned?)

If that's not enough bad news for one week...

My co-worker told me she gave her notice around 5pm on Friday. I am beside myself with this news. Frown

She was the one who was optimistic about the whole thing and talked me off the ledge. In the end, I think it just comes down to commute. From what she told me about the job, I am surprised she took it.

Awesome Admin left right after tax season. She was very conflicted about quitting, but she lowered her commute by about 1/2 hour (if not more) and her husband was going back to school and she needed to get a job with her degree. It took her 5 seconds to find a job. I am definitely not concerned about finding *a* job.

This co-worker (leaving now) is my "twin". I think we are just very similar in personality, experience, work style, etc. Everyone always confuses us though we look nothing like each other. I've been blessed to work with her for 15-ish years.

That said, she was part-time and never quite put in the effort/hours I did. She went full-time for 5 years to get her kid through college but never really got into the full-time mentality. For this reason, I am rather shocked she took a FT position at a very high hours firm. ??? We only talked about it for a few minutes, so maybe we will talk about it more next week. It's right by her home and her current commute sucks, so that honestly might be most of it. (Beyond that, she wasn't even looking for a job. They matched her current salary). It could be she just took it as an opportunity to shorten her commute and to get the heck out of here. Maybe she is hoping to turn it into a part-time position eventually.

It's back to the drawing board for me. She left me in a HORRIBLE position. I don't blame her and it's not her fault. I really never thought she would leave before me (or without giving me more of a heads up). UGH!

Silver lining? It sounds like this other firm is interested in hiring me and willing to pay very well. For now, it's a longer commute and more hours so I am not interested at all. But, I welcome that she is willing to test the waters. If she is really happy there, I would consider it. I don't think I would seriously consider this other job until after tax season. When I told MH about this other job he said they sounded a little desperate. Um, yeah, they are a CPA firm. Of course they are desperate. They promised her the moon. Will see what they actually give her.

Before all this she had talked me off the ledge and we had kind of agreed to stick it out one more tax season. I would say that my "old employer" has bent over backwards to take care of his employees, and it would help him a LOT if we stuck it out one more tax season. My loyalty does not go beyond that. (& I don't know if it even goes that far. But I am trying).

I think the problem is that this is more my ideal job so it's a higher bar for me. The only feedback I've gotten is that my salary is very high and most likely won't be matched (looking at job postings and talking to recruiters). & I mean when it comes to matching my current work hours and job duties. Yeah, I am not surprised my co-worker got a salary match for a management position with crazy hours. Not apples to apples.

Where does this leave me? I don't know. I think a lot of clients will leave, and so I don't really know how to gauge the futility of staying for one more tax season. Clients will leave regardless. Clients are leaving regardless. (If they are leaving, then work hours will be reasonable). Honestly, maybe she saved our jobs. I just don't know.

I don't have a commute (nothing I'd call a commute), so all I am looking at is longer commute, more traffic, lower pay, etc.

The pressure on me is tremendous. MH told me "that place will fall apart if you leave." It's true. I think it would have fallen apart anyway (if just I left). But with both of us gone...

I think I am going to give it a minute. We are going on vacation in a couple of weeks, so I won't do anything until I get back. But it's time to seriously job hunt and see what else is out there.

It will be interesting to see how "new employer" responds to all this. They are completely MIA and I know nothing more than I last posted on the subject. While searching jobs (about a month ago) I did notice they are hiring a management position (to replace "old employer"). That is going to be make or break for my job. My expectations are low. (My expectations are low if they will react at all to the latest news and also as to the quality of any new hire).

Will see...

For now, I think I am willing to take a significant pay cut just to jump off the sinking ship. Until Friday, I felt like I should just keep the good pay/PTO/flexibility (for 9 more months, or as long as possible). Now I don't know if this job is worth any of that. So if I get offered a job that looks good but pays 20% less tomorrow, I think I'd probably take it. I have a job in mind that is close to home. I think I will finally pull the trigger on applying.

Edited to add: It's not cancer (MH's tumors). Thank Goodness! (Hence, the very unexpected new tumor. But I guess I could have clarified). & trust me, brain tumors SUCK and are deadly (if you don't treat them). But, cancer is just another can of worms.

& please no unsolicited medical advice. I don't even know where to begin with that, so... please don't.

July 16

July 17th, 2018 at 08:10 pm

July 16
$81 Groceries
$12 Indian Grocer
$50 Sushi (birthday) lunch
$18 Amazon
Dinner: Chicken Satay

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Not much to report for Monday. MH took the kids out for their birthday sushi lunch.

MH did the grocery shopping for the week.

MH picked up some Amazon Prime Day deals (some power strips and charging cables that we needed).

MM(15) did hand me $40 cash to deposit into his bank account. $20 from in-laws. $20 he just found in his bag (???). It might have been $20 I gave him for something or other (or I wonder if my dad gave it to him for spending money on their river trip). But, whatever. Finders Keepers. He did also receive $20 from his great-grandfather. His cash balance is up to $1,250 and he is due for a study visit (medical study that pays well) so he will probably get up to $1,500 soon.

If DL received any cash, he hasn't told me. I am sure he got the same $20 from MIL, and he does have a $20 check from the great-grandfather.

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

One In, One Out

I did choose a shirt to pull out of my closet. It was one I bought for a couple of dollars last year (patriotic). When I pulled it out to wear it around July 4th it was too itchy. (It seems that clothing is getting more soft over time, so this feels like sandpaper). Anyway, I should have just thrown it in the donation pile at that time. But I made sure to do so when I brought home my new shirt. & I did offer it to the kids first, but no one wanted it.

I put MM's old shoes in the trash today.

July 15, Crazy Errand Day

July 17th, 2018 at 06:34 am

July 15
$10 Gymnastics
$ 2 Target
$50 Birthday Dinner
$22 shoes (will probably return)
$28 Kohls
$22 Groceries
$47 Fuel (minivan)
Dinner: ~out~

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Sunday was pretty exhausting. I am starting to regain some strength and probably was overly ambitious on the chore front. By 5pm I was pretty much done and ready to go to bed. I am sure the heat didn't help.

It was MM's birthday. He had his gymnastics class and he was thrilled because it ran long (extra 1/2 hour).

I got a lot of errands in. I was going to take DL shoe shopping but he was in a mood and refused to go. which was probably for the best, because he would have freaked if he knew we'd be waiting 1.5 hours for his brother. His feet are roughly the same size as mine, so I shoe shopped for him.

There is some expensive shoe store right by gymnastics and Target, but they have good clearance prices. So I perused over there. I checked the size 12s and would bring MM back if there was anything I thought he might like, but the pickings were slim. I found a $20 pair of flip flops for DL. DL told me at some point plain black was fine, but I have yet to find anything. Until today. With tax, spent $22.

Ran to Payless because DL is perfectly happy with his tennis/every day shoes but they are falling apart. Was just going to buy the next size up. All the shoes in his size were all mostly brown/black and they had few tennis shoes anyway. Wondering how big they make that particular shoe since it does look more "little kid", but he's up to size 9. Anyway, it's best he tries them on. MH said he would take him shoe shopping this week. It's been a battle (to get him to go to the store to try on shoes), so I will let MH fight that battle.

I drove past Target on my way back to pick up MM and thought I'd get him an icee. I sometimes do that, but usually we share a small. I thought, I will surprise him with a large icee. Wouldn't you know, they were out of everything but small? *sigh* (I did get him the small. Was better than nothing, and he told me it was refreshing).

At this point I am only about 1/2 way done with errands. I took MM to Kohls after his class. They have an abundance of extra wide shoes in stock and I had some gift cards (I got for the purpose of buying the kids shoes). I actually found a cheaper pair of flip flops for DL and MM found a pair also. (They both have sad flip slops that are too small. Mostly they just refuse to go shopping). Those were $15 each. I grabbed a shirt from the men's section. (It just caught my eye when we walked by, and was on sale for $10). MM found a pair of tennis shoes for $55. His shoes were 12 months old, which isn't bad for a growing boy/man. In the end, that was all $28 cash (after gift cards), which I Was pleased with.

MM was telling me how the kids at school like to brag about how expensive their shoes are and how many they have. He just thinks it's dumb. He's telling me from an, "I don't understand people" standpoint. Welcome to the club. (This is a teenager who didn't want anything for his birthday. He's really extreme in the other direction).

After that we went to the grocery store to get fuel and groceries. I had a '50-cent off per gallon' coupon from MH's big grocery run the prior weekend.

We stopped by the grocery store because I wanted to pick up some eggs. I was going to make deviled eggs for the kids, but ended up being too exhausted in the end. I don't even remember what else we got. MM wanted some string cheese and I picked up some deli meat. Probably some other odds and ends.

MM chose Mongolian BBQ for his birthday dinner.

Though we spent a lot of money this weekend, I am overall pleased with the spending. I think in most cases we got more than we paid for.

I think I mentioned before, neither kid wanted to do a birthday party. They both just chose lots of eating out, instead. I think we got off easy!

July 14, Long Day

July 17th, 2018 at 06:05 am

July 14
$32 Fuel
$18 Water Park (parking/locker)
$ 4 @7-11 (snack)
$30 Birthday Gift
Dinner: leftovers

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Saturday was a long day. We decided to pick up the kids because I wanted to visit the water park in our parents' city. (It is significantly nicer than the one here, as I recalled). Plus, the weather was *perfect*. 20-30 degrees cooler than our July weather.

I guess I should say, original plan was for the in-laws to bring the kids to us. But it was better for us to just switch that around.

We tried to get there at opening, but failed. We got a late start and had to pick up the kids first. The water park looked crazy crowded but in the end most the lines were pretty short. We stayed 2 hours, as planned. I think that worked out pretty well, even though we missed the first/less crowded hour. DL was in a mood and didn't talk to us the entire time. But anyway, given all of the above, I think it went as well as could be. I got enough slides in to feel like I got my money's worth.

Did I mention that it was the month of birthday? MH wanted to get his mom a birthday present, so got her a gift card. He tried to consult me, but my family isn't much into birthdays. I balked at $40, accordingly. So he went with $30. (Usually his sister takes the lead and they go in together. Or we plan ahead and have free gift cards).

Before that, we did fill up the gas sipper with gas (we have a cheapie gas station by our home). We did end up driving 250 miles round trip.

After the water park we had lunch with the in-laws. MIL made lunch for us.

After that, everyone was pretty tired and ready to go home, but we wanted to see my parents for at least an hour. Usually MH handles the drive home (which is often much later; he is the night owl) but he was wiped. I was also pretty wiped, but I probably had slept more the night before. Anyway, I was fine with driving as long as we got home before dark. I also needed some caffeine and calories to stay awake, so I did a stop at 7-11. I don't remember the last time I did that, but was worth being more alert for the drive home.

We probably left the house around 8am and got home around 8pm.

Friday the 13th

July 15th, 2018 at 07:25 am

July 13
-No Spend-
Dinner: leftovers

Phew! Thankfully Friday the 13th was peaceful. It was one heck of a week. The black cloud/crazy insanity seemed to let up for maybe a month at work but then returned. It was just one thing after another this past week. My co-worker's wife finally had her brain tumor removed (LONG Story), my "old employer" had a bad fall, and we had a crazy driver fly through our parking lot and hit a fence. Just a typical week in the year 2018. Seriously!

MH did take our newer car in for a couple of recall repairs. I honestly don't remember ever doing this before. I think we have just been lucky. For some reason I was thinking this was the first car we ever brought the dealer brand directly from the dealer, and that they probably had better records. No idea why I was thinking that because after thinking about it, we bought our prior two cars from their respective dealerships. Duh. I think we were close to pulling the trigger on completely different make cars, so I just forgot. We've only ever bought used cars. Other than these 3 new-ish cars, all the rest of our cars were bought 10+ years old from private parties. I think that explains most of our lack of recalls over the years. (It's only 10 of 25 driving years that we've had newer vehicles).

Anyway, we had one recall and MH tried to make an appointment and they were super annoying. Like he had to get on some mail list and they couldn't fit it in for 4 months!? I don't know. We've only found dealerships to be super irritating. I avoid if at all possible. So MH just got pissed off and gave up. I think the second recall notice was more important. I don't know all the details, but he was able to schedule ASAP.

So, he took care of that Friday. In the end, the timing worked pretty well for us. We are going on a 2000 mile road trip next month and I hadn't thought too much about it. I'd like to think I would have double checked the tires and so on. But in the end, the dealership said we need to urgently replace all tires and some brakes. Anyway, I totally take this with a grain of salt and definitely will not get the work done at the dealership ($$$$$). But I did look up the tires and they are near the end of their warranty. The only work we've ever done on this (5 year old) car is to replace tires, so I think it's reasonable it needs brake work. MH will take care of that with our mechanic this week.

The public TV station that MH volunteers for usually has a really nice appreciation dinner every spring, but they skipped it this year. In the end, MH was mailed tickets to the fair and a free parking pass. I'd probably just give them away (nothing appeals about going to the crowded fair during the hottest weeks of the year. UGH!) But this works out pretty well. Our water park is inside the fairgrounds, which is just annoying. With our season passes we have free fair entry (which you need to get into the water park during the fair), and we also have a lot of free passes to bring friends. BUT, the fair is for the next two weeks, and after that the kids are back at school. MM wanted to invite a few friends on a weekday but it just wasn't going to work. It was going to be super crowded and annoying, and we'd have to pay to get them into the fairgrounds. But I told him we now have two fair passes and a free parking pass so go crazy.

The kids were still with grandparents and MH was working on a movie set until the wee hours (volunteering), so I had a very quiet evening to myself.

July 11-12, This & That

July 13th, 2018 at 11:35 am

Feeling caught up now...

July 11
$10 Lunch
$10 Gymnastics class
$26 Target (Groceries)
$66 Hanes
Dinner:Tortellini

July 12
$1 Donut
Dinner: leftovers

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Thursday (12th) was a pretty quiet day. I treated myself to a donut for breakfast. MH met his parents half way (about 60 miles) and dropped off the kids. They wanted to do spend some time with them and celebrate their birthdays.

Wednesday was a bit busier and spendier.

I went out to lunch with one of my co-workers.

MM(15) had gymnastics class. He missed all the other (July) classes due to birthday festivities and other plans, but he usually tries to go twice per week.

MH took him over to his class and grabbed some groceries at Target while he waited for him.

I got my travel reward credit card and charged it up. I was telling MH I was short $13 (I had medical bills and insurance bills to easily get to the bonus). Anyway, DUH. I usually prepay some health insurance ahead (to get these bigger spend bonuses) but just didn't have to this time. I would have pre-paid $13 (adding onto the July payment) if I had thought of it. In the end, I had noticed some holes in my socks and did some shopping on Hanes.com. I will have to check the last time I bought socks/underwear. (I don't remember off the top of my head). They had some big sale and free shipping and so I picked up a couple of other items, in addition to ordering new underwear. I just threw it on the travel card to be done with the reward.

{I will have to do a separate credit card reward post later}.

Oh, and I remembered to check the men's socks for pricing differences. In this case, the pricing was the same either way.

Edited to add: I didn't note buying any socks since 2015. I am not sure how accurate that info is. I can see that being a small enough purchase to not really bother with (going out of my way to correctly categorize).

July 10

July 13th, 2018 at 10:40 am

July 10
$75 Medical
$35 Fuel
$15 Groceries (forgot tomato sauce!)
$9 Walgreens (Groceries)
Dinner: Burritos

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Paid $75 for a medical appointment today. We will definitely max out our deductible this year (which we usually do anyway; my husband has an ongoing medical issue). But this year seems to be my year to rack up medical bills. I've had three ultrasounds already and probably will have two more in the next month. (I'd say 3 entirely different medical reasons, though two may be related). It's just been one of those years.

My test results were good (PHEW!) and was a huge relief, but I have another ultrasound scheduled to follow up and to be on the safe side.

MH was supposed to have his annual MRI this week but it was rescheduled. What I expected to be a high-stress medical week ended up being low-stress. Phew!

I took the 'gas sipper' to my medical appointment but the car was about out of gas. I stopped at a really cheap gas station neat the hospital and near my work. That worked out well.

I stopped by Walgreens for a soda afterwards and picked up granola bars on sale. This is my office breakfast/snack stash.

MH planned to make an "ingredients already on hand" kind of dinner, but didn't realize until the last minute that we had no tomato sauce. Ice cream was on sale, so he stocked up on that too. (I just took care of dinner. Is an old family recipe I can make in my sleep, so wasn't phased with dinner being thrown at me as I walked in the door. Otherwise I may have preferred to turn around and go to the store for him instead).

MH attended a free acting seminar. This is some group at a local for-profit college. They have some really useful film making programs and so on. In this case, he thought the seminar could be relevant to screenwriting and the speaker was DL's teacher from the art school. He's very involved in the local film making community and MH was figuring it wasn't the worst thing to get more face time with this person.

July 9, Two Teenagers!

July 13th, 2018 at 09:28 am

July 9
$7 Game
$26 Lunch (Deli + Bakery)
$61 Dinner (Indian Cafe)
Dinner: ~Out~

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

MH found a Game Stop? gift card and picked up a VR game. (I believe this was a birthday gift to MM one full year ago and that we gave him the cash value in exchange for the card). Just a coincidence that MH happened to find or remember about it this week.

My youngest turned 13! Ack!

I think it's pretty certain at this point that MM(15) is the easiest kid on the planet and is never going to be much of a *teenager*. His brother will make up for it. He's been very *teenager* already for two years. Wink

DL(13) didn't want to do anything for his birthday but eat out a lot. MH took the kids out to their favorite deli and stopped by the bakery next door ($2 for 5 pastries?).

For dinner we took him to his favorite Indian Cafe. We were all very happy to have an excuse to eat there. MH left some huge tip that was way out of character. Is not a restaurant (with servers). He told me he wants them to stay in business. Yeah, because handing them a $10 bill twice a year will keep them in business. Wink It's just funny because it was so out of character. & it added significantly to our spending on this day, so is worth noting.

I need to remember to get DL(13) set up with a checking account. There is no rush except that I can automate his allowance when we get this set up. I am very happy about this because it makes our lives simpler.

Edited to add: In the end, DL grew 5 inches this past year. I was surprised. His brother did the same from age 12-13. That is just crazy!

July 8

July 13th, 2018 at 09:26 am

I've been jotting down spending, which is good because I am behind... I will do a few posts today to catch up.

July 8
$33 Groceries
Dinner: Indian Chicken Makhani (crockpot)

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Not much to report for Sunday.

MH did some grocery shopping and picked up some treats for DL (his birthday is Monday). Because he seemed to have a few dinners already planned and the kids will be gone half the week, I joked that he didn't need to get (more) groceries this week. Right? ... He actually said that might be the case. So might even out a bit from the monster grocery run last weekend. It is what it is. This is the only full month the kids will mostly be home. We usually get more of a reprieve with school lunches. Last month MM was fed for like half the month while he was gone. School starts pretty early in August. So it's mostly this month that I need to feed two teen boys *all month* from the grocery budget.

We watched Titanic, which felt like it took all day. (It did, between that and catching up on the Unspooled podcast). There aren't too many LONG movies, thankfully. I did remember to watch this one in our home movie theater. I usually don't like to utilize and rather just watch a movie on our comfy couch. But since this is more intellectual movie watching than "just for fun" movie watching, I guess I want to get the full experience. I told MH to remind me in the future (as we go through the Top 100 movie list), because I will never remember. Unless it's something epic. It was definitely the right choice to watch Titanic on the big screen with the premium sound.

Next: 2001 Space Odyssey

July 7, Mostly Quiet

July 9th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

July 7
$28 Groceries
Dinner: Sloppy Joes

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

In the morning MM volunteered at the animal shelter. It's been more than a year but I've actually never made it out to the library over there before. It's a long drive to the shelter and not worth driving home in between, but usually can find some errands to run. Anyway, today I was able to sit in the car and listen to podcasts and read for about an hour until the library opened. But it was too hot to sit in the car (for 2 full hours) and I had nothing else to do. I went to the library and it was packed! I swear I saw like 30 people in there. But no one was sitting in the cushy chairs they had (about 6 that I saw?) so I sat and read (my library ebook) for a while. The library is only about 2 miles from the shelter, so it's just perfect.

It's nice to see so many people utilizing the library.

On the way home I picked up some groceries. I noticed we were out of milk yesterday, and I wanted to pick up a few other things. I planned to pick up a pound of meat, but it was on sale if you buy more in bulk so I just bought 3 pounds. Same for the pasta I bought.

So... I get home and there is already milk in the fridge. Ack! No idea where it came from. Even worse, I accidentally bought the brand milk. (I don't buy milk very much). I was so focused on getting the correct fat content, that I forgot to look at the price (they all look the same to me). So that was a fail. (MH told me he would make some pudding, and I did use some of the milk to whip up some more pasta, so maybe we will get through it).

The kids were off at a birthday party and MH was working on a movie shoot (it's all volunteer but they do get fed well). So they were all taken care of for dinner. I didn't see much food in the fridge so decided to just make some sloppy joes (old family recipe). It will be nice to have some leftovers.

For the birthday party, it was rather last minute but I had already stocked up on Target gift cards when they were on sale around Christmas time. MM also picked up some food treat for his friend, while we were at the grocery store.

This is DL's best friend who shares the same birthday. I think this is some of why DL is kind of "meh" on the birthday front. Other people's houses/parties are always more fun. Wink

In the end the kids ended up staying at their friend's house overnight (which didn't surprise me at all). So it was a very quiet night in my house.

July 5 & 6, Feeling Blah

July 9th, 2018 at 12:29 pm

July 5
$8 Groceries
$12 Indian Grocer
Dinner: Fiesta Chicken Burritos (crockpot)

July 6
$2 Lunch out
$40 Games (4 Party Packs)
Dinner: Cheeseburger Pasta

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

For lunch Thursday, I was feeling kind of ill and nothing sounded good, so just picked up a sandwich at the grocery store. In the end, I didn't like it much. While there I picked up some other groceries (fresh baked bread). I guess MH also picked up some groceries for some meal he hasn't made yet. (Our grocery store is high end and has very fresh food, but the sandwich was a strange bread and they barely put any mayo on it. It was just very dry and not jiving with me).

I ate out again Friday, same deal. The only thing that sounded good to me was a BK burger, and I had to drive about 10 miles (home) to find a decent BK. It was just a bad week. (I spent far more on gas than I did on the burger).

Friday night was DL's night to choose/cook dinner. Cheeseburger Pasta (sort of a casserole) is his favorite meal.

MH participates in some game night group and one time they did some electronic games. I remember MH telling me about it, where you put it up on the big screen somehow, but then everyone can participate with their phones. Anyway, he saw some deal Friday, $40 for something like 20 games. So we tried out the games last night and we had a blast. In this case, he bought them for the playstation and we were able to play along with our cell phones. I am guessing we will end up with just a few favorites, but it's nice to be able to try such a wide variety of games. & because my husband is a bit of a game collector (board games), I told him I appreciated the electronic/non-clutter version.

July 3-4, Pink Tax

July 7th, 2018 at 07:34 am

July 3
$10 pet license renewal
Dinner: Thai chicken

It was MM's night to make dinner. The kids love their dinner nights because they get to choose what to make.

I do have to take my cat to the vet to get his shots updated (usually around $20). I suppose I may have a deadline with the license renewal, but was already planning to update his shots so that we can board him while we do our road trip.

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July 4
$35 Birthday Gifts for MM
Dinner: Steak & Baked Potatoes

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

I mentioned in a recent post that MM didn't want anything for his birthday.

We had played bananagrams at SIL's house and MM seemed to be way into it. So I thought that would at least give him something to open on his birthday. The gift is not necessary, but we have quite a game stash and it wouldn't hurt to add that one to the collection.

In the end, MH also picked up a signed CD from MM's favorite band. They will sign it if you pre-order, something like that. Was another $20. (We won't get it for a couple of months, but can tell him that it is coming).

We did nothing for the holiday, but the kids went to a friend's house where there was a fireworks extravaganza. Definitely not anything I would spend my money on (I think setting off fireworks in our climate/region is completely dumb and insane, but it's what people do. So the kids' youth will be full of pyromania. We are happy to sit it out now that they are old enough to go off on their own. In addition, MH is hard of hearing so he just does not enjoy on any level).

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I saw this video the other day and it was amazing:

https://www.facebook.com/dearalyne/videos/194488441235252/

I've not paid too much attention to the "pink tax" talks because I don't even buy most female products to begin with.

Well, this video starts talking about razors. I've never bought the female razors because I just didn't like them. I don't know if price factored. Maybe. (I made this decision like 20 years ago, so I don't remember). & I do sometimes buy men's clothing. I have more man-sized feet, if nothing else.

Anyway, I watched the video and it blew my mind. I really need to start thinking more carefully about everything I buy. I don't even like pink! So why would I pay a premium to buy something pink? I told MH that I was embarrassed that I recently bought a big old thing of pink shaving cream. I feel somewhat *shrugs* about it because was a luxury I never purchased during our one-income years (just used soap or shampoo) and the one large bottle of shaving cream will probably last me something like 5 years. Wink I will survive for paying that few extra dollars. I can see that I should probably stop buying girly foo foo deoderant. I just think it's good to be mindful and will think more carefully through these things as I make future purchases.

July 2

July 7th, 2018 at 07:21 am

July 2
$6 lunch
$27 birthday gift (DL)
$60 Flea meds
$173 groceries
Dinner: Crockpot Chili

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

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Not a frugal day, whatsoever. MH and MM did go to a free movie screening.

**I've been eating out lunch more with co-workers, which I mostly had not done since one-income years. I think mostly they used to eat at the same place every day and it was expensive. I'd maybe go once in a blue moon. Now they mostly eat junk food (??) after that place shut down? (I probably feel the opposite now, that I don't want to eat junk).

Anyway, with all the upheaval at work, there have been a lot of lunches out. On the flip side, my one lunch buddy has been busy and MH has been busy so I am just moving my lunch dollars over to be more work focused. I mostly join them for $2 tacos on Tuesday. But my co-worker had been gone on a long trip and I wanted to hear all about it yesterday.

**I did also order some flea meds online. That's a new thing. I've never battled fleas with indoor pets before. *sigh*

When I got home, the fridge was pretty bare, so I presumed MH did a light grocery run. HA! $173 is probably the biggest grocery run I have ever seen. I have no idea what he stocked up on. But this is the one full month the kids are home and I am sure he stocked up on food and bought some extra food/treats.

**MH also picked up a birthday gift for DL. He has been asking for a pull up bar.

Usually it seems we don't plan much for the kids' birthdays and then something more extravagant always seems to come up last minute.

Will see... For now, we have about 5 days until birthday #1 and both kids are saying they don't want anything and they don't want to do anything for their birthdays. Both their birthdays are next week.

In the end, DL did ask for a pull up bar specifically. MH never wants anything and so we usually aim more for experiences for him. I have been thinking that we will take him rock climbing. He LOVES climbing and maybe it's time we get him some more opportunities on that front. At the least, will take him once, but might think about getting him more of a membership or into classes.

MM = Monkey Monkey. It's just not been a priority to-date, but I can't imagine anything he would want more than more opportunities to do some sort of rock climbing.

**I've got DL's passport in hand already. It only took 2 weeks. I had been dreading that chore, but in the end our city had opened up a new passport center (since the last time we needed passports) that is open 6 days per week. Phew!

I did not get MM's passport renewed, because if we can wait until he is 16 then he won't have to renew in person after that.

**I haven't done any credit card rewards (one-time bonuses) this year because it's been so much chaos.

In the end, we are planning a very simple/frugal road trip for the end of this month. It's only in the last week or so, as it seems to be coming together, that I thought I should try to get the cost down with rewards. I'd be more inclined to save that for a bigger and more expensive trip, but am realizing I am not planning any big/expensive trips in the foreseeable future. & who knows if this reward will even be around in another few years? So, might as well take advantage.

We used the Capital One Venture card for our Europe trip last year, and that seems to be the best bet for a road trip. Will have $500 of our hotel expenses paid for. So I made sure to apply for that card on Monday and should receive it any day. The other reason I chose this card is because it will work with the more last minute plans.


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