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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.

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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.

July 1

July 2nd, 2018 at 06:06 pm

July 1
$10 Parking @ Water Park
$0 Movies
$0 Library books
Dinner: Parmesan Pasta & Mediterranean Salad

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

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For whatever reason, was thinking of tracking spending this month (er, sharing in the blogs. I always track spending). Life has been crazed and I don't even remember why I was thinking that, except for maybe a bit of a reset.

I didn't even realize it was UFM month. I guess that is extra motivation.

{I don't generally participate in UFM and don't want to upset our delicate balance. But the way I participate is by sharing our spending. I will put some kind of disclaimer on my posts}.

I am also putting these in the "one-income" category since MH doesn't work during the summer months.

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I had bought premium season passes to our local water park around the time of Black Friday. About 50% off current prices.

The catch is that we had to process our season passes at this location, and ideally before the Fair starts. (I personally bought my season pass more for another location).

So we took care of that yesterday. It was a pretty horrible trip for us adults (especially because I wasn't feeling well and it was crazy hot). But, the kids had fun. (We maybe stood in lines for an hour, and then the kids spent an hour on the slides. It wasn't that crowded but they were just that inefficient. Security was slow. Season passes were slow. Ugh). I could see MH being more moody about the whole thing, since he is the one who will be taking the kids on weekdays and generally doesn't do *sun*, but he seemed impressed with how cheap the passes were. (The way to his heart is through a good deal?).

I also ended up getting a free meal while we were there. MH got me something because I was so miserable, and we thought it might help. So we went through all the coupons we got (x4) and I chose whatever was cheap. (I mean, it's all junkie food I wasn't that enthralled with to begin with). In the end, they refused to let MH pay. HA! Told him he had some kind of meal card. He argued with them a bit, but then figured he doesn't know what the heck I bought. I told him 100% I did not buy or get any meal cards. So he decided to go check with customer service and see what the heck. Because if our meals were really supposed to be free then he was getting the kids some free food.

I guess it's early in the season. Everything was just kind of very slow and was chaos. In the end, we were not supposed to get a free meal. Wink The free food put us in a better mood though.

After that, I slept for several hours. I just hadn't been feeling well, and have some other medical issues in addition to having some kind of bug yesterday.

When I woke up, I was craving some pasta recipe I saw online earlier. We had everything on hand (though our fridge was mostly bare otherwise). I asked MH what he was planning to make for dinner, and it was actually something similar. He was fine with me taking over dinner. Everyone liked it. I didn't have a quick/easy creamy pasta dish before. Now I have one:

https://damndelicious.net/2014/10/11/one-pot-garlic-parmesan...

Other than that, I've been reading. I might have to finish my library (ebook) tonight. It's due back any second.

We watched the French Connection last night. That one was pretty weird. Every movie we watch leads to like 5 more movies to watch. Anyway, MH told me I had to watch the commentary track. I think he bought this one at the used store ($0 cash out of pocket ~ used his credit). We didn't realize until after that it was based on a true story. Anyway, there are not enough hours in the day and I have had to let it all go. But maybe I can squeeze in this one commentary. Especially because I got like a 10 day break from the movies and I have Wednesday off work.

Titanic is next on the list, which is one of my favorite movies. Probably one of the very few I have actually seen.

I want to do a more general update too. Will see... I think overall less chaos this week. Except for my medical stuff, everything is kind of calm right now. (Knock on wood).

August Savings

August 30th, 2016 at 08:42 am

Received $41 bank interest for the month of August.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $43 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $4 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$10 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-900 Auto Insurance and Maintenance
-300 Staycation Spending
-165 70th Birthday Party
-100 Kids' Birthdays

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

Other Snowflakes:

--I did earn $250 in gift cards but have yet to be able to redeem them.

--Dh earned $150 cash from a focus group. We invested in a used knee scooter/walker and I am hoping we can sell it next week. When we sell it we will probably buy a used violin for Drama Llama. I don't expect that to cost an entire $150. It seems more sensible to buy used than to rent.

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

Kind of a boring month financially. I have some medical bills that will charge next month. Most the expenses above were for July spending. August has been more of a "stuck on the couch" month for me, and busyness with back to school.

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

July Flashback:

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

August Update:

No movement on this. I can't imagine readying for contractors in my current state. Though we have lost MH's free summer time to deal with this, work is really slow for me this time of year and I can handle it. I need to at least start getting some quotes in September.

This week we are taking the kids to the Doctor (well visits/shots), putting new tires on the newer car (replacing low quality stock tires before rainy season) and I got a referral for tree trimming and dead shrub removal. I am pulling a list of contractors to call but I don't know if we will get to that this week. As long as we are steadily ticking things off the list, it can wait a bit longer. Physically, I might be up to dealing with readying the house this weekend.

P.S. Also labeled this post in the *one income* category since dh had no income during June/July/August. His income is more in the "snowflake" range anyway. (If he had a larger income I don't know that I'd differentiate on or off months, but I am definitely feeling the difference without the extra breathing room). I am not even entirely sure he has a job still, so I guess that is some of it.

July Savings

July 30th, 2016 at 06:24 am

Received $39 bank interest for the month of June.

Savings (From my paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash

Nothing was pulled out of Savings in July.

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

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

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

Snowflakes to Bills:

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

Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $12 cash back on Visa/dining card.

--$20 Savings from Target Red Card

I also received a random $50 settlement claim check.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Goal Update

January 2nd, 2016 at 06:46 am

I am copying and pasting sidebar, to memorialize in my blog. Brief Commentary below.

2015 Goals

**Financial**

[X]$11,000 to IRAs 2015 (MAX)
...($11,000 @12/31/15)
...$10,850 savings;$150 credit card rewards
...We save $900/month, plus ROTH credit card rewards

[X]$5,000 to savings
...($5,000 @ 6/30/15)
...We save $300/month, plus interest
...Received an unexpected gift and so will stop tracking savings this year. Just want to have $5k cash more than last year.

[ ]$5,000 to investments
...($4,596 @ 12/31/15)
...We save $200/month, plus snowflakes

[X]$4,100 to mortgage
...($4,100 @ 12/31/15)
...$3k per year to pay off in 15 years; $3,100 *this year* will be more principal than interest!
...Funded with overtime
...Added $825 (gift) to get balance below $175,000

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

I am putting this under the "one income" category because these goals were based on my income alone. & dh brought in a whopping $2,000 in 2015, which was more of a snowball. I did not use any of his wages for the above goals.

We fell a little short of our investment goal. I am fine with that since I will have a tax refund to deposit in a month or so (getting us to $10k+ in taxable investments, which was more my "bigger picture" goal). Since the "big picture" is currently much better than I expected for 2016, I just can't bring myself to care that I Fell short of my 2015 goal by $400.

2015 Rewards Update (Ummm... Bought a CAR with Rewards!)

November 7th, 2015 at 05:44 am

2015 TALLY:

$525 Gift Cards (Citi, dh)
$300 Cash (Chase checking reward, dh)
$200 Cash (AmEx Card Everyday, Moi)
$200 Cash (Barclay card, dh)
-----------
$1,225 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Other Rewards:

**Free Prime For One Year

**$40 cash back (Amex Reward for spending $40 at Amazon)

**$85 Citi Price Rewind

Ongoing rewards (projected through 12/31):

+$200 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex - 2% cash back; health insurance charged to this card)

+$300 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$100 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$40 Visa Rewards (3% back at restaurants)

+$525 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere)

Grand Total = $2,515

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,515

Total 5 Years = $15,212
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending.***

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

We have utilized credit card rewards for decades. It's only in the past 5 years I have been tracking them so closely in my blog because they started to get so substantial.

This year started out kind of slow and I Wasn't expecting much for this year. But as the rewards started to pile in for the last quarter of the year, I decided to do a tally.

& I realized, WE BOUGHT A CAR WITH CREDIT CARD REWARDS. Seriously! The $15,197 we amassed the passed 5 years was more than enough to pay for our most recent car purchase.

WOW!!

That said, I can not stress the CAVEAT part of this post enough. We personally have extreme fear of debt and have never paid a cent to a credit card company (no interest or late payments or carrying balances or whatever). I know not one penny of that $15,197 went back to the credit card companies in the form of any kind of interest or fees. The bulk of what I charge up for rewards is our health insurance (a bill we obviously are going to be paying regardless). Also, groceries and utilities. We charge up the fun stuff too, because we charge up everything, but I've never justified a splurge for a credit card reward. That would defeat the whole purpose.

If you are going to end up paying one single cent to the credit card companies, or can't treat your credit card like simply like it's an ATM card, then I would never recommend going for these kinds of rewards.

On the flip side, if you avoid debt like the plague and you have the personality for it, it's really not that big of a deal. You know, in response the DR mentality that it's impossible to win with credit cards. To that, I say: I got a FREE CAR! Big Grin

P.S. On average I'd say the earning power on these rewards is about $1,000 per hour of time and energy. This is the most efficient income stream that we have, by a mile. Least effort/most reward.

September Savings & Spending

October 1st, 2015 at 06:52 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of August.

Snowflakes to investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $33 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $3 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Redeemed $50 AmEx rewards as a ROTH contribution.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)

Savings (From paycheck):

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

+$1,500 cash gift (to savings)
-$1,500 to pay off medical bills

I suppose that last part was a wash.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$ 385 auto insurance (other vehicle)
-$ 325 Life Insurance
-$ 120 School Lunch for 6-12 months

{I'll be draining the "short-term" part of our savings in the next month or two to pay property taxes}.

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

LM has hit $500 in his savings account! I can't tell you how motivating the 7% accounts have been for the kids. Now that they both have $500 that is the max that can earn the 7% interest on.

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

Dh did receive a $125 focus group payment this month but I didn't snowflake it. We seem to be in the hole this month. Spent more than we should have.

August Savings

September 2nd, 2015 at 05:56 pm

Received $39 bank interest for the month of July.

Snowflakes to investments:

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

Redeemed $52 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $1 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)
--$100 Random refund (from a developer fee paid to city like 15 years ago)

Savings (From paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$ 540 auto insurance
-$ 200 Back to School Expenses
-$ 160 Spending during So Cal weekend

July Savings

August 3rd, 2015 at 05:57 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of July.

Snowflakes to investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $50 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $2 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$ 30 Ting credits (no cell bill this month)

Savings (From paycheck):

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

But... Took out $800 for medical bills.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$2,000 Hawaii airfare

June Savings

July 2nd, 2015 at 06:49 am

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

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

Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $1 cash back on Visa/dining card.

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

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

Savings (From paycheck):

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

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

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

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

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

Current cash position:

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

Upcoming known expenses:

--Medical, medical, medical

--Still have not paid anything for Hawaii yet

May Savings

June 2nd, 2015 at 12:40 pm

Received $35 bank interest for the month of May.

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

Redeemed $37 cash back on Citi card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $4 cash back on Visa/dining card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $50 AmEx rewards as a ROTH contribution.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$1,132 for concerts/events, vet visits, medical, dental, summer class registration, printer ink, organization purchases, pirate gear for camp (pirate theme this year!) and other misc.

CRAZY month!! In May and June of last year we had -0- in non-monthly expenses. For this May I had ten different entries on my spreadsheet (as to 10 different kinds of expenses). Which is probably like more than we have ever had.

I am happy to put May behind me. It wasn't anything big but just a lot of little expenses. It was just a weird month. We are overall in a "no spend" kind of mode with our big vacations this year. (Not planning anything else all year and being more homebodies than usual). On the flip side, there is also a feeling of "doing very well financially" since we keep surpassing financial goals at a more and more rapid pace. This could be some of the spendy-ness. (It seems silly to deny some random things that came up this month).

I've noticed that "May spendy crazy" seems to have been a common theme for SA bloggers.

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

For June dh has a pretty busy schedule and so I will probably have lots of time to work on some more house organization and de-cluttering. It's the kind of thing that sounds so awful and boring to me, but since diving in I have gotten a bit in the *zone*. & it's probably a good redirect of energy since we won't really have any "fun" funds for the rest of the year. (Spending it all on big trips!) So my attitude has adjusted a bit and if I am stuck at home I better make the best of it. OF course, joining a group is also really motivating.

{& I wouldn't feel sorry for me. The worst case is we just lounge by the pool all summer, which is what we have been doing. Boohoo? Big Grin }.

I have more to blog about organizing and de-cluttering but honestly I've been spending less time blahblahblah and more time keeping my house in order. Maybe not a bad thing? Though I do expect to eventually get over the other side of the mountain. I don't want to spend all my time cleaning for eternity. I am enthused to make 2015 the year to get well on the other side of the mountain! & I know blogging about it will keep me motivated too. So more on all that later.

April Savings

May 2nd, 2015 at 07:18 am

Received $50 bank interest for the month of April.^^

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $27 cash back on Citi card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

**I did pull out $1,800-ish for Japan expenses. (All this Japan stuff had been saved up last year, so am not considering it a step backwards for this year's savings).

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$535 for Dentist/Ortho (for 3)
-$400 Summer class for LM
-$150 new glasses for LM

^^Monthly interest peaked this month. I have a 6% CD that matures this month. I can probably renew at 3% but you can only put $500/month into the CD and I have to pay a $35 annual fee to be eligible for this CU. That last part makes it not very worthwhile and it was kind of a pain anyway. (Membership was free for the first year). So I look forward to closing this account and simplifying. Between this and huge Chase checking incentives, I haven't really been paying attention to interest rates. I will probably close this account (and already closed the Chase accounts in December) and will shop around banks/CUs a bit. Probably look at what other CDs are out there right now. I don't expect much but may consider the Ally "raise your rate" CDs since we are so flush with cash. We could maybe just throw our emergency fund into that. I will check terms and pros and cons and other CDs before deciding for sure.

We have about "3 months" of emergency fund that I don't see ever using outside of an extreme emergency, so I think that money is appropriate for a CD. We haven't been this cash flush in recent years so haven't wanted to tie up much in CDs to earn a whole whopping extra 0.25%. But with our current situation it makes more sense to do that. (We also have lots of additional cash that we will not tie up in a CD).

Doings

April 17th, 2015 at 06:17 am

**I received my annual OT check yesterday. My plan was to put 20% of it to investments and $3,100 to the mortgage.

I have about just enough to do that. BUT... Hoarding cash and allocating later seems to work best for us. We also received word that we might know in October if LM needs surgery for impacted tooth. October is also our Hawaii trip. So I think we will at least hold on to the cash until that point. I've also got a lot of expenses coming up in May.

I've already paid for the Japan trip, with my regular check, so will just deposit all this to savings.

I mostly expect to follow through with original plan by 12/31. Just maybe not if LM needs an expensive procedure!

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

**We bought dh's mom some thank you flowers. Mostly she just gets annoyed at those kind of gestures but I think we nailed it this time. Dh had no clue what kind of flowers she would like but we apparently picked her favorite! So glad that worked out. She sent me a picture and they were gorgeous. Money well spent. (Was a, "thanks for watching my kid for 10 days," and otherwise helping with that trip).

**Dh bought a new kindle. With $200 credit card reward.

**I bought two $20 Amazon gift cards and already received $40 back from our AmEx card. (Per my last post).

I ended up just going ahead and ordering placemats. (I had bought a set of 4 and liked them, and had been wanting to order 4-8 more. To go with our new table cloth). In the end, it cost me $8 cash to buy 8 more place mats.

Dh wants to use his $20 to get the ads off the kindle but feels like it's kind of a waste. The timing couldn't be more perfect for that since he had his Kindle for a day or two, felt annoyed with the ads, and then a free $20 fell out of the sky to cover that.

**I ordered a couple of dresses and swim suits for Hawaii. I figured I might return a couple. But dress #1 came yesterday and was *perfect*. Will see how much I keep and return but is my little splurge. Gearing up for *my* big trip this year...

**We will eat well this weekend. Today dh is taking me out to lunch. It's the first lunch date we could arrange post Japan trip, but will also celebrate the end of tax season. Going to my favorite Thai restaurant.

Since my phone stopped ringing off the hook, and apparently everyone thinks I am on vacation, I am thinking of taking this weekend entirely off. I can cram next weekend if need be. It's probably how it always goes. I am stressed and worried how it will all get done... Then I have a quiet day or two at work and it all seems easy peasy. It's amazing what you can get done without a million interruptions!

**This weekend is the kids' school International Festival. It is DIVINE. Homemade meals from around the world. So yeah, we will eat well today and tomorrow.

March Savings & Doings

April 6th, 2015 at 08:12 pm

Received $45 bank interest for the month of March.

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Redeemed $42 cash back on Citi card. Deposited this snowflake into investments.

Savings (From paycheck):

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

**I did pull out $1,100 cash for Japan airfare.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$500 for life insurance

Short-term savings is robust right now (you might have noticed way more + than - in recent months) but that is mostly because we prepaid property taxes in December. Which leaves an extra $2,500 cash buffer or so since we've already saved up the next property tax installment (which isn't due until December).

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Doings:

**Life has been busy. Mostly work.

**I did finally sign up for that credit card reward. $200 cash back + free prime for one year. Should get the rewards soon.

**Mid-month I get my OT check for the year. I will also have to sort out overseas trip expenses with my dad. OT should be way more than expenses. So I am mostly just looking forward to sorting all that out. Then we can see where we are at financially and look ahead.

**The funny thing about "more money" is more choices and stress. That's the mode I am in right now. A lot of stuff is popping up on the horizon now that we have some extra money. I think it's just a matter of time -we need to think through and prioritize. But for the moment I am feeling very overwhelmed. Some of it I haven't talked over with dh yet and I know it will be better once we sit down and talk it all out. (Who knows - he may outright veto me. That would make it easy).

Our "year of splurge" is definitely over when it comes to the frivolous, but there is still a lot of less frivolous stuff to sort out. Home improvements and medical stuff.

With the extreme drought situation here we may have the opportunity to redo our front yard landscaping. (Both city and HOA approval, perhaps. Both have been very picky with the unnatural lush green lawns). We can do the back whenever but it's been more of a dream more than a priority. Talking about being able to do the front yard too and having some extra money is suddenly bumping that up to the top of our priorities. Maybe the theme for us this year is "conservation". I really want to dump the gas guzzler too.

(We've wanted a more appropriate yard, for our climate, for ages. It's just not something we really thought through before we bought our house. We didn't really know the local climate either. Since living here for a time, it's always bothered me what a water wasting city this is compared to our last city. & we met a few people who had more appropriate landscaping so kind of put it in the back of our heads that is what we really wanted. It was just I had never heard of the idea before, I guess. When we did start seeing other kinds of yards we had no money).

Anyway, I went for a walk in parents' way more water conservative (though less dry) city over the weekend and saw a lot of ripped out lawns. I am going to broach the subject with dh. At the least let's kill the backyard lawn. Why have we not done that yet??? That part is a frugal (free) step. The problem is that I perused the websites/portfolios of a few recommended landscapers. So now I am dreaming of a fancy hardscape kind of backyard. Big Grin I am sure everything I was drooling over was expensive.

Of course, maybe I should dream away. We are probably at a point where we could be rid of our gardeners. I'd love to keep them on but the most of what they do is mowing lawns. I don't know that they'd still help us with our meager yard work if we have no lawns. It is something to consider though. If we go REALLY low maintenance we would save $1,000 per year on help. Maybe this is sounding more sensible. Well, if I have to talk to dh about it and get some quotes. Our neighbors are kind of ritzy so I don't think I was looking at reasonable landscapers. (Neighborhood recommendations). It will be a little more work to seek out a deal. But, we won't know until we start getting quotes and doing more homework.

I think that is a lot of my being overwhelmed. I personally tend to estimate things high and plan for the worst. Which is good financially but maybe unnecessary stress at times. Right now I just have a lot of question marks.

February Savings

March 1st, 2015 at 08:26 am

Received $42 bank interest for the month of February.

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

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards to our ROTH

Savings (From paycheck):

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

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

I updated sidebar for all of the above.

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

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

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

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

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

January Savings

February 2nd, 2015 at 06:00 am

Received $42 bank interest for the month of January. I am still just adding this to cash, for simplicity. We never seem to have enough cash, anyway. When I have "too much cash" we can re-evaluate. Wink

Dh received $70 birthday money. He generally prefers to save this money but we had such a good year I encouraged him to splurge. I think he only spent $40 of it. He had wanted to get Prime but I told him that I would just get it for free. He signed up for a free trial in the meantime and we have what feels like is a million TV shows and movies (on top of the million we already had). I can't say that we miss cable *at all*. (We already had netflix and hulu and get all sorts of free content over the internet).

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

Redeemed $43 credit card rewards (cash back) from our 2% card.

snowflakes into investment account:

$68 cc rewards (per above)


Savings (From paycheck):

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

I updated sidebar for all of the above.

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

+$1,300 to cash
-$530 for insurance (home/auto)
-$195 school lunches (6 months)
-$100 passport expenses

2014 Review

January 24th, 2015 at 07:15 am

I already reviewed 2014 but did not keep the entry because it had more net worth details then I'd prefer to leave up in this blog for eternity. So, I will summarize again for future reference. Nothing new here...

CASH:

Cash is up $7,000. This was an easy year - was a fairly low key year compared to more recent years on the "emergency" side of things.

$5k is our annual goal. The bulk of this is to cover home repairs and car replacements.

RETIREMENT:

Maxed out our IRAs. 13.25% of income.

With returns, our retirement funds were up $22,000.

Doing Traditional IRAs in 2014 netted us an extra $3k in tax savings. That extra $3k went to overseas travel plans. But in the future should be more like $2,400 refunds just due to the IRA and will boost our entire "retirement savings" to 16.25%. (We will plow the tax savings into long-term retirement savings - will just have to keep it in taxable investments).

INVESTMENTS:

Opened up a long-term investment account to supplement our cash and retirement savings. Contributed $3k in 2014, for an additional 3% of income. (Contributions were $150 per month, plus snowflakes, starting in May).

Kid's college money was also up $3,700.

HOME:

The value of our home remained the same.

MORTGAGE:

Paid down mortgage by $6,300. About $4,000 was regular payments and $2,300 was snowflakes. We had a great year for snowflakes as we weren't focusing on the mortgage in 2014. But one of the snowflakes was a $500-ish mortgage interest rebate and another was a credit card reward for a $200 check to the mortgage so it seemed appropriate to put those to the mortgage. We put all snowflakes the first 4 months of the year to the mortgage too, before we opened our investment account.

In 2015 we plan to start throwing an extra $3k per year into the mortgage. For now, all snowflakes are going into investments.

TOTAL NET WORTH:

Our net worth increased by $42,000.

This was our goal, exactly. But what are the odds of that??? We are always so much at the whim of the markets.

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2015:

Net worth increase $42k:

Cash + $5,000
Investments + $5,000 ($3k + $2k tax refund)
Retirement + $11,000 (Max IRAs)
Investment Returns + $14,000 (assumes 6% returns)
Mortgage Paydown + $7,000
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NET WORTH + $42,000
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**My "annual net worth increase" goal has been $30k for several years and this was the first year that I had bumped it up to $42k. I wonder if we can bump this up to a full 60k by the time we are age 40? The plan would be that our net worth would eventually increase by our annual spending every single year ($60k). I don't know what age that will be realistic for, but somewhere in our early 40s is what we are aiming for.

This & That

January 18th, 2015 at 08:08 am

I'll start with the minutiae because I have lots of catching up to do. This is what happens when I don't post for a week!

**I officially opened a Traditional IRA for dh yesterday. I will fund 2014 as I can. By April, of course. (We contributed to his Traditional IRA in 2-income years but converted it all to ROTHs in low-income years. Time to start his Traditional IRA from scratch, since our taxes are creeping up).

**Still waiting for investment forms to complete our taxes but hope to file this week. Refund should be about $3,200. I am going to throw that at dh's IRA and mostly be done with that. (The refund is due to funding Traditional IRAs versus ROTHs. We aim very breakeven on our taxes otherwise but this will be "flip a coin" territory for a while; to be decided for sure when we do our taxes every year).

{This $3,200 refund is his Japan trip money, as you may recall. It still is, but throwing it at the IRA will just mean less money to move around. I will keep $3,200 in savings that was earmarked for IRA. I don't know how much or when I will really need the Japan money}.

**Mr. Money Mustache blogged about his 2014 spending details and all I can say is: I BOW DOWN BEFORE HIM!

Mostly, his efficiency increase in 2014 was astounding. Whereas once I would compare our budget to his and be like, "Sure, that's where we are and will be when we cut out the mortgage and the expenses of working and yadda yadda". This year was, "Never mind. What the..."

I don't bow down to people lightly, that is for sure. But it's the only response I have to that...

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The theme for 2015 seems to be "ONWARD and UPWARDS," for us. We might progress our net worth upwards from it's peak in 2005? (Depends on the markets, so lord knows). Cash is back to it's peak level. Our income is higher than it's ever been. It feels AWESOME!

I did get a raise. Woohoo! It was not a full $200 per month raise but that is what I will net after tweaking my taxes a bit.

Thank goodness for the raise because we had a lot of expenses creeping up.

--Health insurance creeped up, as it always does.

--Property taxes went up about $1k per year and so I added $100/month to our savings to cover that. (During most years our property taxes have gone down and offset other expenses, so I don't know that I have increased this monthly savings amount in like a decade??)

--I increased our grocery budget by $100/month. Which is also the first time I have ever increased that category (in like 15 years of marriage??).

So that's a lot of budget increases, for us.

I suppose that is more budget increases than raise. I lowered our cash savings by $100/month since our cash savings is robust. I split the difference and added $50/month to our long-term investments. I will move things around if we have to but I think it makes sense to shift some of the cash savings to longer term investments.

I guess overall that leaves us saving $50 less per month but I am fine with that - our savings rate is very high.

I also have a lot of buffer in the budget still. The $150/month I Was putting to long-term investments was a placeholder for my raise last year. If I can keep this at $200/month (new amount) then that is a nice buffer for future expense increases.

We also have an extra $200/month tax savings for any year we do a Traditional IRA instead of a ROTH.

That gives us a total $400/month buffer - I am holding onto this for future health insurance increases.

In addition to all the above, we have significant sources of other income. Most of which will likely go to savings. (I've been averaging $8,000 per year NET income with overtime and credit card rewards, in recent years).

& this is why our income will be so high this year. I am making a solid $15,000 LESS household income than last dh worked (my salary alone). BUT, we are also paying about $20k+ less in income taxes, so we are netting MORE with my paycheck. All the extra income just boosts our "net income" substantially. I am sure we are nowhere near our peak "gross income" level on two incomes. But on a net basis we should blow our highest income year out of the water.

**On a side note, I took a 10% cut in compensation in 2009 and so it is only this year that I am making as much money as I Was back then. With this raise, it puts me back where I left off. That is another reason for my feeling of moving onward and upwards.**

The crazy thing about the abundance this year is that there is absolutely nothing we want to buy. If I ever receive a large raise, or any raise above expenses, we wouldn't make any plans to spend it. We are very content.

After carefully planning and saving up the cash for every purchase it feels quite odd to have nothing left on our wish list. It certainly took a long time but we have made it through our entire list! (We topped it off by upgrading our phones and car stereos last year, and dh's home movie theater. The year or two before we had finished furnishing our home and replacing the old furniture that we did not like).

I mean like since the time of our very first jobs in our teens this is probably the only time we aren't saving up for something substantial and material over the long run. (Or a long list of smaller things that would take time to accumulate). It feels WEIRD!

I've personally never been a big fan of spending money on experiences. Both my hubby and I much rather buy something we can use and enjoy every day. But I will admit that maybe a lot of that has to do with being in the accumulation phase of life. I'd rather buy something I can use and enjoy and save the rest for a rainy day?

I do see our spending shifting with age and assets. If our house is furnished and our cars are new and we have everything we possibly want... That frees up a *lot* of money for other things. We are definitely throwing more dollars at vacations and shows and experiences. & it's certainly nice to be able to afford more than a budget vacation once in a while.

Final Christmas Shopping

December 6th, 2014 at 11:20 am

I think I am DONE, but still have to help the kids pick up a birthday gift for dh. At least we have some time for that.

Note to self: shopping the first Saturday in December is okay as long as you wrap it up by 10am.

So yeah, I lied. I did go out shopping. I did do as I said I would - avoided crowds and traffic. I guess my sole goal was to get a Christmas present for work gift exchange. I drew the new girl and decided I'd just pick up a nice Christmas decoration. (Recalling a really pretty one someone picked out last year). I printed out some Michael's coupons. I thought Target would be try #2 if need be, but Target opened earlier. I also noticed my wallet is falling apart, so figured I'd look at wallets while I was out.

So stop #1 was Target around 8:30am. Pretty empty and calm and nice so I took my sweet time. Could not find a wallet like the one I had. Could not find almond roca for my dad (the other thing I decided to get while I was out).

I did find a GIANT snickers bar. Dh had told me he wasn't going to do any stocking stuffers but then he was. I figured the kids would love that!

Defeated on the wallet and gift front, I decided to go to Marshalls later, which would be on the way home. When I got to Michaels a little after they opened I realized that there was a Ross next door. I popped in and failed on the wallet and the gift front but I found a good deal on almond roca! I will have to remember that for the future. No one was there and there was no line.

(I ended up getting some almond roca for the kids too and dh was happy with that for the stockings. Phew! I was actually just going to give it to them, but waiting is fine too).

It was probably closer to 9:30 by the time I got to Michaels - they opened at 9. Huge sale there and it was a bit crazy. Waited in line for a bit but at least it was early and they had a lot of registers open.

I found a second gift for my mom - so she is all covered for birthday and Christmas. (I wasn't necessarily going to get her anything but found a $8 gift she would love - the only thing I paid full price for).

Spent about $15 on a cute basket and some ornaments for work gift exchange. I also have a Starbucks gift card left over for last year, to round out that gift.

Saw the perfect gift for Japan friend, though I almost didn't get it! Then I had my "doh" moment that BM plans to be traveling to Japan in April. That's taken care of.

Found the cutest gift for a friend I am meeting up with on Monday. We just have that relationship where we don't necessarily exchange gifts but buy each other cute things here and there. Just, no pressure or commitments, which I love with buying gifts. I spent a whole $2.40 and the gift was perfect!

I also picked up some really cute ribbon which didn't make it into my bag or onto my receipt. Frown I don't know what happened with that. But I will survive.

Hoping that I am now officially done with stores and shopping for the rest of the year!

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Other Doings:

Today dh is taking the kids to stock up on free Scholastic books. Has like $300 in vouchers, in exchange for volunteering. (Much much more than that will go to teachers and school).

Dh also did some de-cluttering and sold a pile of books and video games for $100+ credit at the used store. So, he has close to $150 to spend there now. That will keep him rich in movies and video games for a while.

I closed two credit cards opened for one-time bonuses, and applied for another one. The card I applied for - the website just flashed a "thank you" real quick and went back to the home page. I will wait a couple of weeks and then call and see if my application went through or not. I don't see why I wouldn't be approved, but maybe the website glitched. So the new card is in limbo but I think everything else is officially closed and done with. Just waiting to hear if my $99 Chase Southwest fee is refunded.


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